Sunday, June 26, 2016

Blue Pond: Hybrid Train to World Heritage Site

DMU JR East HB-E300 series, Resort Shirakami-Aoike, leaves Akita Station

Recently, I had an opportunity to visit Akita City, which is a distance of 660 km north of Tokyo. It is a main city of Akita Prefecture in Tohoku District. Although I was very busy there, I could have a slight chance to see several trains at Akita Station after my assignment. 

One of the unique trains, which I could get a shot of at Akita Station, was Resort Shirakami-Aoike (Blue Pond), which is a sister train of Resort Shirakami-Buna (Japanese Beech). Shirakami is famous for its unspoiled expanse of virgin forest in the mountains in Akita Prefecture. It was designated as the World Heritage List in 1993. Aoike is known as a beautiful blue colored pond located within the forest. Needless to say, Resort Shirakami-Aoike train is operated for this World Heritage site via Oou Main and Gonoh lines from Akita Station.

Different from Buna, Aoike train is a hybrid powered. Its formal name is the JR East HB-E300 series. Using a diesel engine, induction motors, VVVF (adjustable voltage adjustable frequency) inverters and lithium-ion batteries, the HB-E300 series is a hybrid train. The induction motors also act as generators during braking, so the generated electricity is charged when the brakes are applied.

A total of 3 sets, 8 units of the HB-E300 series have been built since 2010 by Tokyu Sharyo and Niigata Transys. The other 2 sets are operated in Nagano and Aomori Prefecture under the names of Resort Furusato (Hometown) and Resort Asunaro (Hiba arborvitae).

Side view of the HB-E300 series

Official information about Resort Shirakami trains: