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Long IslandNassau

LIRR plans to test 'quiet cars'

A Long Island Rail Road conductor signals

A Long Island Rail Road conductor signals "all aboard" with his hat on a Penn Station-bound train from the Jamaica LIRR station. (Aug. 25, 2010) Photo Credit: Kevin P. Coughlin

Soon it may be easier for LIRR commuters to read stories like this one in peace -- and quiet.

The Long Island Rail Road plans to test a "quiet car" on some trains this fall, giving customers a tranquil refuge from annoying ring tones, loud cellphone conversations and assorted other auditory nuisances.

The details are "still in the planning stage," and the LIRR has not decided when and on what trains the quiet cars will be rolled out, LIRR spokesman Sam Zambuto said Friday.

The agency will decide on whether to keep and expand quiet cars depending on the success of the pilot program.

The LIRR is following the lead of other rail providers, including Amtrak and sister MTA railroad Metro-North, in providing the quiet cars. Earlier this week, Metro-North announced that it is expanding its program, now in effect on the Port Jervis and Pascack Valley lines, to its Hudson and Harlem lines.

Like Metro-North's quiet-car policy, the LIRR's would be "self-enforced," Zambuto said.

For years, commuters have called for the LIRR to take action against obnoxious chatterboxes. Railroad officials previously said it would be difficult to enforce a quiet-car policy.

In a November letter to one commuter, the LIRR said it was tough enough, as is, for riders to find a seat during rush hour.

"Asking customers to find the 'right' car for cellphone use on a crowded train would present even greater challenges," the letter said.

LIRR officials also previously said that disputes arising from violation of quiet-car rules could cause train delays.

But after seeing other railroads, like Metro-North, have success, Zambuto said the LIRR is ready to give quiet cars a shot.

"We don't have any preconceptions about it," he said. "We want to know what customers think about it."

The LIRR Commuter Council stands ready to offer its suggestions on how to make the plan work, said council chairman Mark Epstein of Melville.

"We appreciate that the railroad has heard and wants to respond to riders' complaints about the volume of noise during their daily commute," Epstein said.

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