The Hokuriku Shinkansen Line directly linking Tokyo with the Hokuriku region on the Sea of Japan coast started bullet train services on Saturday, lifting the hopes of residents seeking economic benefits.
The route was made possible by the completion of a new 228-km section between Nagano and Kanazawa that extends the Tokyo-Nagano bullet train route, which has been operating since October 1997.
Operated jointly by East Japan Railway Co. and West Japan Railway Co., the line now allows travelers to make the trip from Tokyo to Kanazawa in about 2½ hours, shortening the usual travel time by about 1 hour and 20 minutes.
Areas in Hokuriku are hopeful the new line will increase the flow of money, goods and people. Some estimates put the new line’s economic effects at between ¥20 billion and ¥30 billion per year.
Aviation has traditionally had a greater market share than rail between the Tokyo metropolitan area and the capital of Ishikawa Prefecture. Kanazawa is famous for Kenrokuen, one of the three most famous gardens in the nation.
Since shinkansen began running between Tokyo and Osaka along the Pacific coast in 1964, the year that the capital hosted the Summer Olympics, the network has expanded gradually across the country.
The existing lines, however, were mainly developed to link major cities along the Pacific, neglecting cities along the Sea of Japan.
The Hokuriku Shinkansen Line links both sides of the archipelago, bringing the size of the national bullet train network to some 2,600 km.