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Kyoto pitches to host maglev line instead of Nara

by Masaaki Kameda

Staff Writer

A maglev line through Kyoto on the way to Osaka would have about twice the economic effect as the currently planned course through Nara, according to an estimate by the city of Kyoto released Wednesday.

The estimate shows that a maglev line using Kyoto Station would give the city and surrounding areas annual benefits of ¥81 billion and attract 5 million more passengers from the Tokyo metropolitan area.

In Kyoto Prefecture alone, the economic impact is estimated at ¥59 billion, while Nara Prefecture would see an ¥11 billion ripple effect, northern Osaka Prefecture would gain ¥7 billion and southern Shiga Prefecture ¥4 billion, according to the estimate.

But if the line were to run through or near the city of Nara, the yearly economic windfall would be around ¥42 billion and some 2.9 million more passengers would come to the region, according to the figures. In this case, Nara Prefecture would see a ¥22 billion economic impact and Kyoto Prefecture ¥20 billion.

The city of Kyoto set up a committee Wednesday to promote pushing the government to change the route to Kyoto, said Yoshiaki Nakajima, a section chief in the city’s urban planning bureau.

“We have been working to lure the maglev line to Kyoto with all-Kyoto efforts, including the prefecture and the local business sectors,” Nakajima said. “We will urge the central government to engage in a national debate” on the maglev route.

The government officially instructed Central Japan Railway Co. (JR Tokai) in 2011 to build a maglev line between Tokyo and Osaka.

Under the government plan for west of Nagoya, the route will run through the “vicinity” of the city of Nara before reaching Osaka.

The government has no plan to change the maglev route following the discussions by a panel of experts set up within the transport ministry, said Atsuyoshi Kita, an official at the railway bureau, adding that details of the Nagoya-Osaka have yet to be ironed out.

JR Tokai hopes to start the service initially between Tokyo and Nagoya in 2027 and full service between the capital and Osaka in 2045.

The project linking Tokyo and Osaka is expected to cost ¥9.03 trillion. The maglev train would link Tokyo and Osaka in 67 minutes running at speeds of up to 505 kph.