Monday, August 20, 2012

Super Swan, Inter-Island Express to Hokkaido


EMU JR Hokkaido 789 series, limited express Super Hakucho arrives at Hakodate Terminal

Following my last blog on 16th of August, I am going to continue to report on my midsummer train journey to Hokkaido.

After arriving at Shin-Aomori Terminal, I transferred to a JR conventional line. I rode the inter-island limited express, the "Super Hakucho (Super Swan)," on the Tsugaru Kaikyo Line. Unlike railways in the Tokyo metropolitan area, which is operated on direct current (DC), this route is operated on alternate current (AC).

The limited express Super Hakucho, EMU JR Hokkaido 789 series, was launched in 2002 (see the top photo). The light green colored body is very vivid for passengers. It takes a little over two hours to reach Hakodate Terminal on Hokkaido Island.

The highlight of the train journey by Super Hakucho is passing through the Seikan (under the sea) Tunnel. It lies between Honshu and Hokkaido islands. The total length is 53.85km. It was completed in 1988, and had been the world's longest tunnel until 2010, when the Gotthard-Basis Tunnel penetrated through the Alps in Switzerland. The Super Hakucho passed through this thick darkness in only 24 minutes with a maximum speed of 140km/hour.

When the light was restored, it meant that I had landed on Hokkaido, the second largest island in Japan. Welcome to the northern island. I saw green paddies, beautiful mountains and clean streams through the train windows.

It was only a short distance to Hakodate, the gate city of Hokkaido Island.

Night view of the city of Hakodate from Mt. Hakodate near Hakodate Station 

More information about EMU JR Hokkaido 789 series, Super Hakucho (in Japanese): http://www.jrhokkaido.co.jp/train/tr001_01.html