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Japanese maglev update

And this came in…

TOKYO, Dec. 24, 2009 (Kyodo News International) —

Central Japan Railway Co. submitted to transport minister Seiji Maehara on Thursday a final report on the construction plan for a magnetically levitated train system linking Tokyo and Osaka, but failed to specify the route due to prolonged negotiations with local governments.

The report instead showed three possible routes with estimates of their respective construction costs. The shortest route running through a tunnel in the Southern Alps is seen as the most probable option.

The other two routes divert northward into Nagano Prefecture at higher construction costs, according to the railway company known as JR Tokai.

JR Tokai President Masayuki Matsumoto told a press conference, ”All data point to superiority of the straight route,” referring to the shortest route.

The Nagano prefectural government has preferred the other two routes. Nagano Gov. Jin Murai suggested that sufficient discussions are needed to determine the route.

An advisory panel to Maehara, minister of land, infrastructure, transport and tourism, is expected to consider from next spring which is the best route.

The report was jointly presented by the Japan Railway Construction, Transport and Technology Agency, a public entity involved in railway construction.

JR Tokai aims to start maglev train services between Tokyo and Nagoya in 2025. The company has said it will bear all the construction cost, which is estimated to total 5.1 trillion yen for the shortest route.

If it receives approval from the government, JR Tokai plans to begin construction in fiscal 2015.

JR Tokai believes it is essential to provide an alternative railway route to the existing, 45-year-old shinkansen line between Tokyo and Osaka since the aging infrastructure including bridges and other facilities is in need of extensive renovation. But it would not be feasible to do renovations while operating the shinkansen bullet train service on its current tight schedule.

The next-generation transport project was initiated in 1973. It is expected to take 40 minutes to travel from Tokyo to Nagoya by maglev train at a top speed of 500 kilometers per hour on the shortest route.

Details of the project between Nagoya and Osaka are still undecided.

Mitsubishi UFJ Research and Consulting Co. estimates 10.7 trillion yen in economic benefits will be created through the launch of maglev train services between Tokyo and Nagoya over the first 50 years.

”The longer the construction work takes, the more economic benefits will be lost,” said Yoshito Kato, a senior researcher with Mitsubishi UFJ Research. ”The project should start as early as possible.”

Filed under: International High Speed Rail

4 Responses

  1. “And JR Tokai…has said it will bear all the construction cost…”

    If my conversion math is right, this maglev project in Japan will cost at least $58 billion. Wow.

  2. khengsiong says:

    Given Japan’s shrinking population, the maglev project may not be a great idea.

    Furthermore, large chunk of the line is underground. Passengers will not be able to see the scenery from the train.

  3. NikolasM says:

    The population issue is a very good point. By the time this is operational, Japan’s population will be 12 million lower than it is today and plummeting to 95.2 million by 2050 from 127 million today. Furthermore, the population will have aged considerably with the median age being 53 in 2025 (to 57 by 2050) with a large share considered elderly, many who likely won’t have much use for a super fast maglev.

  4. Allan says:

    So what will the elderly have a use for? Will they not travel? If they do travel, will they not want to get their old, tired bones to their destinations quickly?

    I suspect, but I don’t know, that even with a population reduction that Japan’s density will still be far greater that the population density of the US.

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