speaking carriages on trains?

I’m always annoyed when I get on a train and realise the only place with seats left is the quiet carriage. It’s the complete opposite of the old smoking carriages where, if you could survive the smoke, there were all sorts of conversations underway.

In the Guardian Weekend last week I came across “spark the debate”, a new advertising campaign where readers are encouraged to visit the Guardian website and get involved in a debate. The advertisement suggested an interesting alternative to pretending there is no one around you whilst in a packed tube train – talk to them:

“It’s one of the sad ironies of modern urban living that the more neighbours we have, the less we seem to want to know about them. Nowhere is this more evident than on the daily commute to work. There we are, crushed together with the kind of physical intimacy one normally reserves for partners and spouses. We’re on our way to the same sort of offices, to sit in front of the same computer screens in the same parts of town. You’d have thought it would be the perfect opportunity to strike up a conversation. Instead we go to work in stony silence, unable to tear our eyes away from our Dan Browns or the adverts for travel insurance and spot cream.”

“So here’s the proposition. Why not designate one carriage on tubes and trains as a “speaking carriage”, where passengers are encouraged to strike up conversations with each other?”

I really like this idea since, afterall, I married a girl I met on a plane. :-) More at spark the debate on the Guardian website.