Saturday, August 10, 2013

Winter Holiday in Hokkaido in December 2010 (Enhanced Version) ~ Section 3

Airport (エアポート) is a dedicated rapid train service operated by Hokkaido Railway Company (JR Hokkaido) between New Chitose Airport, Sapporo, Otaru and Asahikawa in Hokkaido, Japan. The service primarily stops along stretches between these destinations, and has a top speed of 130 km/h (80 mph). The service currently uses 6-car 721 series EMUS, as well as 5-car 785 series EMUs and 5-car 789 series EMUs as its main rolling stock.

The service commenced on 1 July 1992, in collaboration with the opening of New Chitose Airport, using 4-car 781 series EMUs, until their ultimate retirements on 30 September 2007. These sets frequently operated on Lilac limited express services between Sapporo and Asahikawa. From the same date, 6-car 721 series EMUs and 5-car 785 series EMUs were also used on these services, with the 785 series sets frequently operating on Super White Arrow limited express services between Sapporo and Asahikawa.

From 1 October 2007, enhanced 5-car 789 series EMUs were introduced on these services, finally displacing the older fleet of 781 series EMUs. These sets, along with the 785 series EMUs, are frequently used on Super Kamui limited express services between Sapporo and Asahikawa.

Green Car (first class) accommodation is not available on these services. However, reserved seats ("u" seats) are available at a cost of ¥300 (S$3.66), with the cost for children being half the price. There are no extra charges for the Rapid Airport train service for tourists travelling with a Japan Rail Pass and / or Hokkaido Rail Pass.

Part 3 ~ Journeying to Obihiro (Part 1)

The Super Ozora (スーパーおおぞら) is a limited express train service operated by Hokkaido Railway Company (JR Hokkaido) between Sapporo and Kushiro in Hokkaido, Japan. There are a total of seven daily services running in both directions, with the fastest journey time taking 3 hours 35 minutes, and mainly KiHa 283 series DMUs as the main rolling stock. The service is capable of reaching a top speed of 130 km/h (80 mph).

The service commenced operations on 22 March 1997, using KiHa 283 series DMUs, at a top speed of 130 km/h (80 mph). Services are normally formed of six or seven cars, but may be lengthened between eight to ten cars on certain days and months. There are no extra charges for the Super Ozora limited express service for tourists travelling with a Japan Rail Pass and / or Hokkaido Rail Pass.

On 27 May 2011, the Limited Express Super Ozora No. 14 service, operated by a 6-car KiHa 283 series DMU, between Kushiro and Sapporo was stopped in the Niniu Tunnel in the village of Shimukappu, Hokkaido, after Car No. 2 became derailed, which eventually ignited a fire. All the 245 passengers and crew on board evacuated the train alive, though 39 people were treated for smoke inhalation and minor burn injuries. The burnt-out train was eventually removed from the tunnel on 29 May 2011, allowing full service on the Sekisho Line to resume, and was officially withdrawn on 30 June 2011.

Also, on 15 July 2013, the Limited Express Super Ozora No. 3 service between Sapporo and Kushiro was brought to a stop on the Chitose Line, due to a short power circuit that occurred in Car No. 3 (Green Car), shortly after departing Shin-sapporo Station. This eventually resulted in some limited express services in Hokkaido being suspended until further notice, while maintenance works were conducted on all trains used on limited express services towards Hakodate, Kushiro and Obihiro.

As a result, the maximum speed is scheduled to be reduced to 120 km/h (75 mph), and the number of daily return workings will be reduced from seven to six from 1 November 2013. This will eventually increase the fastest journey time between Sapporo and Kushiro to approximately 4 hours 04 minutes.

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