Friday, April 15, 2016

Sayonara Cassiopeia, the Premium Sleeper Train

Overnight sleeper train, "Cassiopeia", stands at Ueno Station (August, 2013)

Along with Super-Hakucho, another limited express train, Cassiopeia, was abolished on the Tsugaru Kaikyo (Seikan subsea tunnel) Line on March 21st. Cassiopeia was the premier overnight sleeper train operated between Ueno, a subcenter of Tokyo, and Sapporo, the main city of Hokkaido.

Cassiopeia was launched in 1999 by JR East and JR Hokkaido. It was a 12-car train pulled by an electric locomotive, Class EF510 (Ueno - Aomori), Class ED79 (Aomori - Hakodate) and the diesel locomotive Class DD51 (Hakodate -Sapporo). Cassiopeia had not only sleeping beds, but also showers, a dining car and a lounge car. To book the seats was very difficult specifically in long holiday seasons, as it was very popular among travelers. During its seventeen hour journey between Ueno and Sapporo, the passengers boarding on Cassiopeia could enjoy many things. They could enjoy luxury dinners in the dining car. Passing through the world's longest subsea tunnel on the Tsugaru Kaikyo Line was a big event. The beautiful scenery of sunset and sunrise from the lounge cars was also a big hit.

Corresponding to the inauguration of Hokkaido Shinkansen, Cassiopeia was abolished. I had been thinking that someday I would travel by Cassiopeia, but it had not come about due to being busy everyday. JR East plans to continue to operate Cassiopeia, as a special train only for peak seasons and/or a group tour train, but it has not yet been officially announced. Sayonara (good-bye) Cassiopeia. See you sometime again.
 
Side view of KaHaFu 26-1, the overnight sleeper train, "Cassiopeia" (August, 2013)