Tuesday, July 29, 2008

A tool to check train seat availabilities



Unlike the thorough Deutsche Bahn site in Germany, there is no train seat booking sites in English besides the one offered by JR East. However it covers only the Shinkansen and limited express trains mainly running in the Northern Japan where not many tourists from abroad are interested in.

JR East booking site

Seems many tourists intend to travel Tokyo and Western Japan such as Kyoto and Hiroshima. The thing is that most people have no means to make train seat reservations until they come to Japan for the Tokaido-Sanyo Main Line Shinkansen, or for other trains to popular destinations such as to Takayama. I presume many people plan to utilize the Japan Rail Pass.

Even though you can't make reservations, there is a way to search train seat availabilities online beforehand.

JR Cyber Station site


If your computer recognizes Japanese characters, and you'd like to check vacancies on the trains running in Japan in advance by yourself, you might give it a go by following my directory.

ご希望の内容を入力して、検索ボタンをクリックして下さい。
■ 乗車月日

■ 乗車時刻

■ お乗りになる列車
■ 乗車駅・降車駅

乗車駅・降車駅は
漢字・カタカナ・ひらがなで入力してください。




検索

ご利用時間は、6時30分から22時30分です。

乗車月日 / Boarding date: month / day
乗車時刻 / Boarding time: hour / minute
お乗りになる列車 / Type of train: when you click the arrow, there will appear a drop-down with train names.



==Update on 29th June 2011==

New Shinkansen train names such as Mizuho, Sakura, Hayabusa have been added in the list below.
cyberstation new

1st line; asking you to choose one of them below
2nd line; Nozomi, Hikari, Mizuho, Sakura and Tsubame
3rd line; Kodama
4th line; Hayabusa, Hayate, Yamabiko, Nasuno, Tsubasa and Komachi
5th line; Toki, Tanigawa ans Asama
6
th line; Tsubame
7th line; Choose here if you aren't traveling on Shinkansen, e.g. (limited) express trains e.g. Hida for Takayama

If you choose from between 2nd and 6th lines, station names will appear automatically in Japanese.They are all Shinkansen stations.

乗車駅・降車駅 / Choose the original and destined stations, and press the blue icon.
Fill the blanks in case you will take some other train than the Shinkansen.
Then the result will come up.


Typical names of the stations tourists are likely to use:
東京 / Tokyo
品川/ Shinagawa
新横浜 / Shin-Yokohama
小田原/ Odawara (Gateway to Hakone)
名古屋 / Nagoya
京都 / Kyoto
新大阪 / Shin-Osaka
姫路/ Himeji
広島 / Hiroshima
博多/ Hakata (Fukuoka)
熊本 / Kumamoto
鹿児島中央 / Kagoshima-Chuo

I now try to check the
Shinkansen ordinary class seat availability for 9th August from Tokyo to Kyoto.
The results are:

08 月 09 日 東京 → 京都 / On August 9th, From Tokyo to Kyoto

空席案内 ( Train seat vacancies )
普通席Ordinary
グリーン席Green Class
列車名 ( train # )
発時刻
( dep )
着時刻
( arr )
禁煙席 喫煙席 禁煙席 喫煙席
のぞみ 107号 / Nozomi 107
08:00 10:21
ひかり 363号 / Hikari 363
08:03 10:48 ×
のぞみ 11号<全席禁煙> / Nozomi 11
08:10 10:28
のぞみ 175号 / Nozomi 175
08:13 10:34
のぞみ 109号 08:20 10:41
のぞみ 13号 08:30 10:50 ×
ひかり 405号 / Hikari 405
08:33 11:14 ×
のぞみ 111号 08:40 11:01
のぞみ 211号 08:47 11:08
のぞみ 63号 08:50 11:11 ×
のぞみ 113号 09:00 11:21 ×
ひかり 365号 09:03 11:48

Man taking a seat = reserved seat
Clover in green color = Green class
'B' in the bed = B (second) class sleeper berth

Remarks below:

○:空席があります。--Vacant
△:空席が残りわずかです。--Nearly full
×:満席です。 --Full
-:該当する席はありません。または予約できません。 No service on that particular train (e.g. Green car seats), or
unable to book.
*:喫煙席はありませんが、喫煙ルームが設置されています。--No smoking allowed in all seats, but there are designated smoking areas on some of the carriages. (
Shinkansen series N700)

So as of today ( 30th July, 2008 ), most of the non-smoking ordinary reserved seats on the Tokaido Shinkansen leaving Tokyo between 8 and 9 am on 9th August are fully booked.

Another example is the limited express Hida from Nagoya to Takayama at 6:00 am on 9th August. Choose the date, departure timeut the original and destined stations in the blanks.

Station names in Japanese:
名古屋: Nagoya
高山: Takayama

The results are as below.

08 月 09 日 名古屋 → 高山 / On August 9th, from Nagoya to Takayama
空席案内 / Train seat vacancies
普通席 ordinary
グリーン席 Green
A寝台 First class sleeper
B寝台 Second class sleeper
列車名 / Train names
発時刻 ( dep )
着時刻 ( arr )
禁煙席 喫煙席 禁煙席 喫煙席 禁煙席 喫煙席 禁煙席 喫煙席
ひだ 1号 / Hida #1
07:43 10:04 - - - - -
ひだ 3号 08:43 10:52 - - - - -
ひだ 5号 09:43 12:13 - - - - -
ひだ 7号 10:48 13:07 - - - - -
ひだ 9号 11:48 14:16 × - - - - -
ひだ 11号 12:48 15:17 - - - - -
ひだ 95号 13:48 16:13 - - - - - -
ひだ 13号 14:48 17:08 - - - - -
ひだ 15号 15:48 18:20 - - - - -
ひだ 17号 17:48 20:15 - - - - -
ひだ 19号 19:43 22:07 - - - - - -

As of today ( 30th July, 2008 ), many of Hida trains are still vacant.

Last example is an overnight sleeper train 'Hokutosei' from Ueno to Sapporo. Try to search vacancies for the same day as above cases. The departure time should be chosen as 19:00

08 月 09 日 上野 → 札幌 / On August 9th, From Ueno to Sapporo 
空席案内 / Train vacancies info
普通席
グリーン席
A寝台
B寝台B class, or second class sleeper
列車名 / Train name
発時刻 ( dep )
着時刻 ( arr )
禁煙席 喫煙席 禁煙席 喫煙席 禁煙席 喫煙席 禁煙席 喫煙席
北斗星号 / Hokutosei
19:03 11:15 - - - - - - × ×

It's completely booked up.

==Newly added on 30th June 2011==

Search results for 16th July 2011 as of 20:00 on 30th June 2011

07 月 16 日 新大阪 → 博多 / 16th July, from Shin-Osaka to Hakata

空席案内
普通席
グリーン席
列車名 発時刻 着時刻 禁煙席 喫煙席 禁煙席 喫煙席
のぞみ 95号<全席禁煙> / Nozomi #95
07:12 09:40 ×
ひかり 545号 / Hikari Railstar #545
07:20 10:09 - -
みずほ 603号<全席禁煙> / Mizuho #603
07:50 10:15 × -
のぞみ 97号<全席禁煙> 07:58 10:27
さくら 599号<全席禁煙> / Sakura #599
08:02 10:46 -
のぞみ 99号<全席禁煙> 08:21 10:50
のぞみ 1号<全席禁煙> 08:27 10:55
のぞみ 3号<全席禁煙> 08:45 11:13
さくら 547号<全席禁煙> 08:59 11:39 × × -
のぞみ 5号<全席禁煙> 09:09 11:43
のぞみ 7号<全席禁煙> 09:29 11:59
のぞみ 9号<全席禁煙> 09:45 12:13 ×


This site works from 6:30 to 22:30 in Japanese time.
Wish I could motivate you to try this site.


Express train

2 comments:

susie2 said...

Hi Optimistk.

I've just been trying to use this site. When it says it works from 0630-22.30 I am assuming these are the times that you can put into the scheduling, or those are the times that the website is up?

It makes it a little difficult for the overnights, I think, but then I probably haven't comprehended the wonderful instructions properly.

Susie2

Kevin said...

Update: This site is still working, and is a very useful tool. Thank you, Gr/Bv!

In answer to susie2's query: 6.30-22.30 (Japanese time) is the period during which you can interrogate the site.