Saturday, January 11, 2014

Dawn on the Northern Track

Being pulled by EF64-1031, overnight sleeper train, "Akebono", stands at Ueno Terminal
 
On December 20th, 2013, JR East made a press release, in which they announced that a new timetable would begin on March 15th, 2014. At the same time, they announced that the overnight sleeper train, "Akebono" would be retired from being a regular train when the timetable is changed.

Akebono (dawn) is operated from the Ueno Terminal of Tokyo, to Aomori, the northernmost major city in Honshu Island, every day. It debuted in 1970, and covers a distance of 772.8km in about twelve and a half hours via Joetsu, Uetsu and Oou lines. The passenger cars are the blue colored 24 series, which are composed of A-sleepers (first class), B-sleepers (standard class), an open coach and a power-supply car. Although the luxury of the interior doesn't come up to that of Cassiopeia, Akebono has been popular among tourists to and from the area along the Japan Sea coast in the Tohoku District. The pulling locomotives are types EF64-1000 and the EF81, which are switched at Nagaoka Station in Niigata Prefecture.

In the 1970s, overnight sleepers were star trains on the trunk lines in Japan; but today, many sleeper trains have been abolished, because passengers have transferred to other vehicles such as Shinkansen or air carriers. Consequently, only three JR East's overnight sleeper trains survive on the northern tracks in Japan.

After March 15th, Akebono will be operated only in the peak seasons such as summer and New Year vacations. Everything flows, nothing stands still.
 
Passenger carriage, JR East 24 series, overnight sleeper train, "Akebono"