Organization: Canadian National Railways
Product: Publication
Years: 1971

Product copy

Smoothing the way

Once in a while, a passenger or group of passengers may carry on in a way which disturbs others.

Dealing with situations like this is one of the more difficult tasks for Train Conductors, Sleeping Car Conductors and other on train personnel.

This booklet explores briefly just what our obligations and rights are in this respect and the course of action that should be followed.

First – Our obligations

We want train travel on CN to be an enjoyable experience and one which will encourage our passengers to travel again. To achieve this we must, of course, offer clean attractive equipment, good schedules and courteous service.

We must do more, however – we must also ensure that there is a pleasant atmosphere. This means that we must take positive action to curtail the disturbances which do occur from time to time when a passenger or group of passengers causes annoyance to others. While women and younger girls travelling alone are a special concern, we must be sensitive to the feelings of everyone who travels with us.

Annoyance to others travelling

What does this mean? To some persons, children talking and playing in the aisles are an annoyance – to others, young people playing guitars and radios are a disturbing element.

It is obvious then that the decision as to what is real “annoyance” to others travelling is a matter of judgment. In most cases, the decision is easily made – unusually loud talk, the bothering of a passenger who obviously wishes to be left alone, obscene language, physical horseplay or fighting, incomplete attire circumstances which are readily discernible. Perhaps the best indicator is the reaction of the other passengers looking on or who become unwillingly involved.

There are cases, of course, where it is more difficult to “draw the line” and where your judgment will be the governing factor in determining acceptable standards of conduct Such standards will vary from car to car. Passengers expect the standards of behaviour and dress to be somewhat more reserved in the lounge cars than in the coaches. The problems of food service in a busy dining car also make special demands. The time of day will be a factor too as to what is acceptable. What passengers tolerate as normal social activity during the day may be an annoying disturbance at night when they are trying to sleep. In circumstances of this nature, your judgment will apply. In making such judgment, the objective must be simply to ensure that other passengers are not unduly disturbed or that they are not forced to accept standards of conduct less acceptable than they would expect to encounter on an aeroplane, in a bus, or in their local theatre.

What are our rights?

It is well established in law that a Conductor is entitled to remove a person from a train if he is travelling without a ticket, if he is in a serious state of intoxication or if his conduct is such as to be clearly offensive to other passengers.

Section 293 of the Railway Act authorizes a railway company to pass rules and regulations with respect to various matters, including conduct on trains and railway premises.

The rules and regulations of Canadian National Railway Company have been passed in accordance with the provisions of the Railway Act and accordingly have the same force of law as regulations issued by the Canadian Transport Commission.

CN rules and regulations outline in detail the legal powers of railway officials with respect to conduct on trains and station premises. As a Conductor, you are an agent of the Company and have not only a right to enforce these rules and regulations but also a duty to maintain order on a train.

What action can we take?

There is no standard formula for dealing with persons who cause annoyance or disturb other passengers. Each such incident is different and must be handled according to the circumstances and the people involved. In general, however, the course of action will be to:

  1. Through quiet discussion, draw to the attention of the person or persons involved that they are disturbing other passengers and request that they take their seats, lower their voices, turn down their radios or cease whatever annoying act they might be involved in. This should be done as discreetly and as courteously as possible and in a way which promotes regard rather than resistance.
  2. If the person or persons involved fail to respect such a request, then they must be warned that any further difficulty will result in their being asked to leave the train. Such a warning should be made only when it is clear there is no other recourse, and it should be conveyed to those involved in a way that makes the Company’s position known.
  3. If this warning is not heeded and it becomes necessary, as a last resort, to have the passenger or passengers leave the train, then the right to eject a passenger must be exercised reasonably. A Conductor is entitled to use force if necessary to eject a passenger but must use no more force than is reasonably necessary in the circumstances. If the situation warrants, no hesitation should be made in wiring ahead for police protection or assistance.
  4. Any removal of a passenger from a train must take place at a station, but the station need not be a regular scheduled stop for your train. An intoxicated or ill passenger or one who is obviously unable to look after himself, must never be left alone at a station. The individual should be turned over to the custody of the stationmaster, CN or local police officers. Personal belongings should also be left with the passenger.
  5. You should keep in mind that removal of a passenger from a train due to intoxication or offensive behaviour should be considered as a final alternative and only when more discreet measures have been unsuccessful.

Public reaction

We want people to travel by train and there is a natural apprehension when action is taken to have a person removed from a train when the result could be unwanted publicity. This should not be the case. The Company’s obligation is to provide courteous service and pleasant conditions for all who travel by train. This should not be destroyed by a few individuals who have no regard for others. The fact that we live up to our obligation stands to gain for us much more favourable public reaction than otherwise.

This booklet is issued by System Transportation. It was developed in conjunction with Passenger Sales & Services and additional copies can be obtained through your supervisors in either group.


The physical version of this product is part of the federal identity archive.