Monday, June 25, 2012

Cassiopeia, Japan's Premier Overnight Sleeper Train


Overnight sleeper train, Cassiopeia makes its final approach to Ueno Terminal in Tokyo

I would like to take a leisurely trip somewhere with my family once in a while. Hokkaido is where I want to go. Located in the northernmost part of the Japanese archipelago, Hokkaido is the second largest island. While cool there in summer, it is better known as a heartland for winter sports, featuring an abundance of natural scenery, hot springs and delicious seafood.

Although, it is convenient to take a flight from Tokyo International Airport, an amusing train journey is more attractive. Especially, taking an overnight sleeper train sounds very attractive to me. Connecting Ueno, a northern terminal in Tokyo and Sapporo, the main city of Hokkaido, Cassiopeia is the most reputable sleeper train in Japan. This train is directly operated from the Tokyo metropolitan area into Hokkaido Island passing through Seikan Tunnel (a 53.85km long subsea tunnel). It takes about 17 hours.

The photos show the gorgeous train, Cassiopeia. To book the seats is very difficult in long holiday seasons, as it is very popular among travelers. It is called a "platinum ticket". Cassiopeia is a 12-car train pulled by the colorful dedicated electric locomotive, type EF510-500. This locomotive is switched to type ED79 on the Tsugaru Kaikyo (subsea tunnel) Line. Then, it is switched to the diesel locomotive, type DD51 on the unelectrified line in Hokkaido Island. The train is equipped with sleeping beds, toilets, showers, a dining car and lounge cars making it a train hotel.

At some point, I would like to ride it and visit Hokkaido Island on holiday.

 
Lounge car, Type KaHaFu E26 is attached at the end of the train 

Detailed information about Cassiopeia (in Japanese): http://www.jreast.co.jp/cassiopeia/