Tokyo-Nagoya train project OK'd

JAPAN - The Japanese government on Friday approved Central Japan Railway Co.'s plan to construct the Linear Chuo Shinkansen line, paving the way for the 2027 start of magnetic levitation train service connecting Tokyo and Nagoya in 40 minutes.

Upon approval by the Land, Infrastructure, Transport and Tourism Ministry, JR Tokai will set its construction plans into full motion, including holding explanatory meetings for relevant entities and persons in the regions along the planned bullet train line.

The maglev train, which uses superconducting technology, can run at a speed of more than 500 kph. With the envisioned service, the travel time between Tokyo's Shinagawa Station and Nagoya Station will be greatly reduced from the current 90 minutes.

JR Tokai plans to extend the line to JR Osaka Station by the end of 2045 amid expectations that the service will contribute to promoting the nation's growth strategy and economy.

Land, Infrastructure, Transport and Tourism Minister Akihiro Ota stressed the significance of the Linear Chuo Shinkansen line at a press conference after Friday's Cabinet meeting.

"After carefully screening factors including the plan's technical requirements, environmental friendliness, construction cost and duration, I came to the conclusion that it is appropriate to go ahead," the minister said.

"This is an important project that will have a considerable impact on people's lives and economic activities," Ota added.

JR Tokai estimates it will cost a total of about 5.5 trillion yen (US$51 billion) to build the railway system between Tokyo and Nagoya.

After setting up construction offices at several locations along the planned line, the company will start organising explanatory sessions for people concerned, the land acquisition process and other steps.

Full-scale construction with heavy machinery will likely start in the new year.

After receiving an approval letter from Ota, JR Tokai President Koei Tsuge said Friday, "We'll make our utmost efforts to realise the project while putting a high priority on environmental conservation and cooperation with the relevant regions."

In accordance with a law on the building of a nationwide Shinkansen network system, JR Tokai on Aug. 26 applied for ministry approval of the construction plan.

Based on an environmental impact assessment and other related data, the ministry examined whether the construction plan incorporated the opinions of the local governments of Tokyo and six prefectures along the planned line and the Environment Ministry, as well as whether the construction methods were appropriate.

After the planned maglev train line opens, the next step will be to link Tokyo and Osaka in 67 minutes, eventually bringing the construction cost to 9 trillion yen.

There has been strong support among businesses in the Kansai region to move up the plan to extend the line to Osaka. However, JR Tokai has maintained a cautious stance on the idea.

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