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2020-11-26 09:01:52

Update: “Quiet cars” will be available on some Beijing-Shanghai and Chengdu-Chongqing high-speed trains on a trial basis from Dec. 24.

Chinese trains can be a cacophony of bawling babies, barking-loud phone calls, and mobile games and videos played at full volume, but a new rule may put an end to unwanted disturbances for some passengers.

China Railway, the country’s rail operator, is soliciting public opinion for “quiet cars” that would allow people to travel in silence on high-speed trains. The state-run company has a poll on its official account on social app WeChat allowing users to weigh in on the proper etiquette for such cars through the end of this month.

The cars would help “create a civilized, warm, and quiet travel environment,” according to China Railway. The quiet cars will be piloted on parts of the Beijing-Shanghai and Chengdu-Chongqing high-speed rail lines.

The initiative comes at the time when several Chinese cities are cracking down on “uncivilized” behaviors, constituting anything from spitting to showing too much skin in public. Already, transportation authorities in cities like Beijing and Shanghai have instituted rules barring commuters from eating or drinking on subways, with the latter city also banning loud music and videos during commutes.

According to China Railway’s poll, individuals are asked to vote for any of four potential rules that could be applied to quiet cars: setting phones to silent or vibrate, leaving the compartment if a conversation gets too loud, putting on headphones while using electronic devices, and preventing children from being noisy.

People with suggestions not included on the list can make their views heard, too, by submitting them in writing.

Editor: Bibek Bhandari.

(Header image: Passengers use their mobile phones on a high-speed train in Xi’an, Shaanxi province, June 2020. Peng Hua/People Visual)