Re Jeremy Busch's comments in JRL 9142 about Polina Moroz's piece in the Moscow News on Russian train travel, which you carried in JRL 9141. For background, Jeremy Busch's comments explained that an "obschii vagon" is a kind of 4th-class Russian train wagon of lower quality than platzkart.
My understanding is that an "obschii vagon" ticket is simply a platzkart ticket for a person who travels a relatively short distance. Example: if you want a platzkart ticket from Vladimir to Moscow -- on a train that originated in Omsk, for example -- your wagon may be referred to as an "obschii vagon." Mr. Busch is correct that you will not be assigned a seat. But you are seldom assigned a seat in a platzkart wagon when your personal point of departure is of significant distance from the train's original departure point. Mr. Busch is also correct that an "obschii vagon" holds 81 passengers: this is the number of seating, or "sidyaschii," spaces a platzkart wagon holds when passengers are seated along the corridor and when three passengers are seated on each lower bunk in the kupe-like nooks. No padding is also standard on platzkart (until you get a mattress), as are top bunks on which there is no room to sit upright.
My experience is a recent month-long adventure via platzkart from Moscow to Vladivostok. I can assure your readers that while it does not get any more worse than platzkart on long distance Russian trains, it does not get any more interesting either.