Thursday, 22 January 2015

The Setting of the Big Dipper: Part 2

Overnight sleeper train, Hokutosei (the DD51 and the 24 series) stands at Hakodate Station 
Following my previous post, I am going to show you the operation of Hokutosei after arriving at Hakodate Station.

Hakodate was opened as a trading port by Tokugawa Shogunate in 1859. Hakodate Station has four bay platforms (dead-end platforms) in front of Hakodate Port, which is located near the head of Hakodate Peninsula. Thanks to its structure, the passengers, who came from Honshu (the main island of Japan) by a railway ferry boat, could transfer to a train in Hokkaido Island smoothly at this station. Today, the ferry is no longer operated, as the Seikan Submarine Tunnel was opened, but the scenery of the Hakodate Station is still the same as it was.

After arriving at the historical platform, Hokutosei releases the electric locomotive, Type ED79, from the dead-end side. It, then, receives the diesel locomotive (DL), Type DD51, on the other end of the train. This is because the track from Hakodate to the Sapporo Terminal is mainly non-electrified.

The DL, Type DD51, was launched in 1962 to replace steam locomotives on the trunk lines of Japanese National Railways (JNR). A total of 649 units were manufactured over 16 years. Currently, JR Hokkaido, which has taken over the role of JNR in Hokkaido Island, owns 13 units of Type DD51. The vigorous double-heading operation of the Hokutosei train is seen in the northern steep track between Hakodate and Sapporo.

The Big Dipper will go below the horizon soon. Ride it while you still can.
Hokutosei (the Big Dipper) leaves Hakodate Station, and heads to Sapporo Terminal