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Date: 11/25/16 17:02
What is this ?
Author: DaveL

I'm curious about the double deck cars.

Date: 11/25/16 22:18
Re: What is this ?
Author: cchan006

DaveL Wrote:
> I'm curious about the double deck cars.

Short answer: Those are "Green Cars" or first class cars.

The video caption says "Utsunomiya --> Omiya" so the train set is either a E231 or E233 Series EMU running on the Utsunomiya Line, a.k.a. Tohoku Line. The train set can have 10 or 15 cars, but the Green Cars should always be Cars #4 and #5.

Before I or anyone else get into more detail, how familiar are you with railroading in and around Tokyo proper? The discussion can get really in depth, depending on how much you know already. 

Date: 11/26/16 06:01
Re: What is this ?
Author: DaveL

ME ??
I know nothing of Japan's rail scene, except what I been able to see on "that other video site". Along with some "Google Translate" of titles.
The screen shot is from a video of the "Cassiopeia" while looking rearward.
I look forward to you sharing a bit of your extensive knowledge !
Thanks for replying.


Date: 11/26/16 21:15
Re: What is this ?
Author: westfalen

The previous poster is correct, the double deck cars are first, or 'green' as the Japanese say, class and are found on most of the longer distance commuter runs on JR East out of Tokyo.  You don't need reservations but you have to have a green class ticket or pass or pay an extra charge to the conductor when he or she checks tickets.

The photos are the upper and lower levels respectively of a car my friends and I rode from Takasaki to Omiya in September.  They are rather impressive cars for 3'6" gauge.

Date: 11/27/16 06:24
Re: What is this ?
Author: DaveL

Cool pics, thank you for posting them !


Date: 11/27/16 09:12
Re: What is this ?
Author: cchan006

DaveL Wrote:
> I know nothing of Japan's rail scene, except what
> I been able to see on "that other video site".
> Along with some "Google Translate" of titles.
> The screen shot is from a video of the
> "Cassiopeia" while looking rearward.

Green Cars originated in 1969 by JNR (Japan National Railways), government-ran predecessor to the privitazed JR Group of companies that exist today. This is when "First Class" designation was terminated and converted to "Green" class. Railroads outside the JR Group don't have Green Cars, even if they offer different classes of services, so they are not included in the discussion.

Green Cars are usually assigned to faster classes of trains, like Shinkansen, Limited Express, and Express trains. FYI, The last Express train in service was eliminated this year in March, although they sometimes show up in seasonal specials or charters. A passenger has to pay an additional surcharge to ride these faster classes of services, and I listed them from most expensive (Shinkansen) to least (Express), and it's more or less proportional to how fast the train runs.

Local and rapid services are the slowest classes of services, and there's no extra surchage for speed. In fact, rapid service is probably the best value, especially if you know how to use it to "skip" trains ahead of you. This is where 2-5 minutes DO matter, despite the attitude by some Passenger Discussion snobs (especially that snarky HSR proponent) that 5-10 minutes, who cares. :-) Don't know how many times I was able to catch a connecting Limited Express or Shinkansen train by saving those precious minutes using the rapid service when available.

Besides paying a premium for speed, passengers can pay additional fees for "luxury" which would be for riding in the Green Cars. It's roomier inside the Green Cars than an ordinary class car, with more comfortable seats. For example, Shinkansens usually have 3x2 seating, but 2x2 inside the Green Cars. In the Narita Express (Limited Express service), Green Cars have 1x2 seating instead of the typical 2x2. Some trains offer observation-type view with the Green Cars, where passengers get to ride on one of the end cars on the EMU/DMU set and get a "cab ride view" front or rear.

Some trains, especially in Kyushu will offer you a free non-alcoholic drink in the Green Car. Until recently, Green Car was the place to go for 100V sockets for your electronic devices, but newer train sets have them in the ordinary class cars now.

Anyway, the Green Cars you spotted, on the Utsunomiya Line, are unique to the Tokyo proper, as they are used on local and rapid services (no surcharges for speed), while outside Tokyo, none of the JR Group's locals and rapids utilize the Green Cars. It's unique to Tokyo because the commute congestion is so bad and unbearable that commuters are willing to pay extra to get a seat on the train, and in extreme cases, pay to get standing room only in a more comfortable car, the Green Car. Unlike a typical Green Car where reservation is necessary, Green Cars on Tokyo's locals and rapids can be bought last minute, sometimes at a vending machine on the platform.

The lines that use Green Cars on locals and rapids are Tokaido Line, Yokosuka Line, Sobu Rapid Line, Joban Line, Utsunomiya Line, and Takasaki Line. Yokosuka and Sobu Rapid Lines are connected, and use the same train sets, and with the opening of the Ueno-Tokyo Line last year, Tokaido/Takasaki/Utsunomiya Lines are connected and share the same train sets, too. Shonan-Shinjuku Line is also included, although that line is a combination of Yokosuka/Tokaido/Takasaki/Utsunomiya Lines.

JR East and JR Tokai started using the double-decker Green Cars in 1989, because the demand for the Green Cars were extremely high during Japan's economic boom in the 1980s. Even after the bubble burst and during the economic "lost decade," the demand for the Green Cars in Tokyo remained high enough that the practice is continuing. On the other hand, JR West in the Kansai Area (Japan's 2nd largest metropolitan area around Osaka) experimented with Green Cars on locals and rapids, but the ridership was too low, and the experiment ended rather abruptly.

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