JR Tokai may open new maglev train station in Yamanashi before ’20 Olympics

Kyodo

Central Japan Railway Co. is considering opening a new station for its magnetically levitated trains in Kofu, Yamanashi Prefecture, ahead of the 2020 Tokyo Olympics, according to a source.

JR Tokai, the railway serving central Japan, aims to showcase its technology to a worldwide audience by offering foreign passengers the chance to experience journeys at a maximum speed of 500 kph on the Chuo Shinkansen Line.

At present, JR Tokai is running experimental trains on a test line stretching around 43 km in Yamanashi Prefecture.

The company plans to extend the existing test line by about 6 km to run the trains, the source said, adding that passengers would then be able to get on and off the trains between the new station and the maglev train experiment facility in Tsuru, Yamanashi Prefecture.

“There’s a chance we will (create a new station in time for the Olympics) if we get more people calling for experiential rides on the trains,” Yoshiomi Yamada, president of JR Tokai, told a news conference earlier this month.

A JR Tokai official added that construction of the new station in Kofu would be “relatively easy,” as the station would be built above the ground and no tunnels would be necessary to connect it to the experiment center. Negotiations on acquisitions of land, however, might take some time, the official said.

Under JR Tokai’s current plan, the maglev train link will first open between Shinagawa, the Tokyo terminal for the service, and Nagoya, capital of the Chubu region, in 2027.

The new train will connect the two cities, located 286 km apart, in 40 minutes — less than half the time of existing shinkansen bullet train services.

Construction of the Tokyo-Nagoya Linear Chuo Shinkansen Line is expected to begin in the fall of this year.

The maglev line is seen as a second high-speed link for the country’s three key metropolises of Tokyo, Nagoya and Osaka that will provide a backup when the existing shinkansen line becomes obsolete or if it is damaged by a major earthquake.