There are several Tokyo-Hokkaido night train services that provide overnight ride from Ueno, Tokyo to Sapporo, Hokkaido. The overnight service for this route was started with Hokutosei 「北斗星」in 1989 followed by Cassiopeia 「カシオペア」in 1999. Hokutosei had retire from this route since August 2015. This left Cassiopeia serving this route.
Cassiopeia travelling between Akabane and Urawa Station Image by toshinori baba from wikipedia
With the news of Cassiopeia service going to be discontinued in March 2016, when the new JR Hokkaidao Shinkansen Service starts to serve between Tokyo and Hakodate, this would be the end of Tokyo Hokkaido overnight sleeper train service.
ED79 Locomotive pulling Cassiopeia from Aomori to Hakodate through Seikan Tunnel Image by ウラ人 from wikipedia
Currently the Cassiopeia is pulled by different locomotive along different sections of the journey, with the shared line track between the new Hokkaido Shinkansen and conventional rail in the Seikan tunnel may be the ultimate factor that end this overnight sleeper service.
- Ueno to Aomori: JR East EF510-500
- Aomori to Hakodate: JR Hokkaido EF79
- Hakodate to Sapporo: 2 x JR Hokkaido DD51 diesel locomotives
With the increase in voltage to support the JR Hokkaido Shinkansen service, the electric supply will be increased to 25kV from the current 20Kv. This means that the current EF79 cannot travel on the share track in the Seikan tunnel. The freight locomotive has been replace by EF800
Furthermore shinkansen track and overhead line check and maintenance is done at night with the run of Doctor Yellow ( the Shinkansen Maintenance train). This may interrupted by the slower sleeper train through the tunnel.
Another factors may be the decrease in demand for such service. The price tag range between ¥35,230 to ¥66,540 a person.
http://homepage3.nifty.com/ohanefu/ (image 1), http://tetsutabi.seesaa.net/ (Image 2)
Cassiopeia Suit is available on Car number 1 & 2. The picture above was taken in Car number 1. This is the 2nd most expensive room on Cassiopeia at ¥47,720.
It is extreme difficult to get hold of the ticket now, with the news of it operation ending soon, all the date available till 3rd Feb are fully book. You may want to check JR website (http://www.jreast.co.jp/cassiopeia/reserve/) for the reservation detail. Website is in Japanese.
It looks like we can only wait till the service ended and the car transferred to sightseeing cars before we are able to know its new route and be able to book. Even so, we hope to see that it will run special service from Tokyo to Hokkaido when the schedule permit. The locomotive through the Seikan tunnel should pose much issue as it is very likely to be able to pull by the New EF800.