Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Dining Car on the Shinkansen

Interrior of the dining car, type 168 of the EMU Shinkasen 100 series
 
The railway business in Japan is very competitive right now. Many companies are fighting for survival. JR Central and JR West, which operate the Tokaido and Sanyo Shinkansens, are no exception. They are facing fierce competition from airline companies. In this business circumstance, these companies are required to promote the efficiency of transportations.

As a mass rapid transit, a dining car on the railway is a nuisance. It takes up too much space on the train. To make matters worse, the operation cost is very high. As a result, most of the dining cars on the railways in this country have been gradually withdrawn. Currently, only few trains, such as gorgeous overnight sleepers, have dining cars.

The Tokaido and the Sanyo Shinkansen trains also used to have a dining car. One of the examples is the type 168 of the EMU 100 series. The 168 was commissioned in 1989 as a double decked dining car, but retired from the track in 2000. It is composed of dining in the upstairs part and a kitchen-kiosk in the downstairs part.

I have once used the Shinkansen dining car. It was very scenic and spacious. Enjoying a glass of stout and sandwiches, I was able to relax and take a short rest during busy travel. It was back in the 1990s. Time really flies.

Currently, the 168 dining car is preserved in SCMAGLEV and Railway Park in Nagoya City. You can see the gorgeous dining car as it was operated on the track.

 
Double decked dining car, type 168 of the EMU Shinkansen 100 series
 
More information about SCMAGLEV and Railway Park: http://museum.jr-central.co.jp/en/