Business / Corporate

Maglev line gets green light

Kyodo

Central Japan Railway Co. on Friday received a green light from the government to build a magnetically levitated train line between Tokyo and Nagoya by 2027.

The maglev line will shorten travel time from Tokyo to Nagoya to about 40 minutes, according to JR Tokai, as the railway is known. It also plans to extend the maglev line to Osaka by 2045, cutting the trip between the two metropolises to just 67 minutes versus 138 minutes by bullet train.

The cost of the entire project is estimated at ¥9 trillion.

JR Tokai filed the maglev application in August with the Land, Infrastructure, Transport and Tourism Ministry, which examined the project’s safety and environmental impact.

Transport minister Akihiro Ota told a news conference that there is some concern about the project’s environmental impact and said JR Tokai will need to ask residents along it for permission.

The Tokyo-Nagoya leg will traverse seven prefectures.

JR Tokai President Koei Tsuge, who received a letter of authorization from Ota, told the minister that the railway will cooperate with local governments and “make all-out efforts to achieve the project at an early date.”

Construction is expected to start as early as this month, with an eye to completion in 2027. After that, the 88-minute shinkansen ride from Tokyo to Nagoya will seem an eternity.

The maglev train floats on an invisible cushion of repelling magnetic forces, which dramatically reduces friction and allows the carriages to go as fast as 500 kph.

The engineers will face significant obstacles. About 86 percent of the 286-km leg from Tokyo to Nagoya is expected to be tunnels. In some urban areas, the trains will pass more than 40 meters below ground.

JR Tokai intends to shoulder the entire cost of building the segment to Osaka, but the Tokyo-Nagoya leg is expected to cost ¥5.52 trillion.

Last month, the company successfully completed another maglev run on its test track in Yamanashi Prefecture. The seven-car train ran on tires until it reached 160 kph, whereupon it lifted off and accelerated to 500 kph.

JR Tokai will take the technology to local communities with public displays in November and December and test rides, it said.