JR Tokai begins landowner negotiations for maglev train line

Chunichi Shimbun

With construction of a magnetically levitated train line connecting Tokyo to Osaka via Nagoya in the works, Central Japan Railway Co. (JR Tokai) has started negotiating with landowners for property rights around Nagoya Station.

Sectional property rights will determine how far below ground a landowner’s boundaries extend.

In places where the tunnel for the magnetic levitation train line will be built less than 40 meters below ground, the company will sign a contract with landowners and pay them a lump sum in compensation.

Unlike the procedure for land acquisition, which is required to construct stations for the state-of-the-art train, negotiations for sectional property rights are widely believed to go smoother because owners aren’t required to move out.

However, there are over 1,000 people whose land rights will be affected and their opinions on the matter are divided.

When a briefing for landowners was held in Nagoya, many participants voiced concerns.

“Nobody told us that there will be restrictions on how we use our land,” one landowner said. Another asked, “how will high-rise buildings be affected?”

“Unlike the land acquisition area where the owners will leave after selling their land, those in the designated sectional property rights area will have to continue living there,” said a male attendee in his 30s.

“People are also concerned about the effect of electromagnetic (waves) from the maglev train itself.”

Some asked for luggage checks for maglev train passengers, citing an incident in June where a man set himself on fire on a bullet train, killing a female passenger.

“What if there was an explosion in the tunnel?” one person asked.

Once the tunnel is built, there will be restrictions on constructing high-rise buildings because the depth for pilings will be limited.

In addition, there will be limits to a building’s weight above the tunnel, causing some landowners to worry that their land value will drop as a result.

One company has been looking to build a high-rise building within the designated area for a while now.

“We’ve been asking them what limitations will be imposed when the maglev train is completed, but we haven’t received a satisfactory answer yet,” an official at the company said.

According to JR Tokai, a 1.7 km area stretching from Horikawa in Nishi Ward to Taiko-dori in Nakamura Ward falls under the sectional property rights area. The figure does not include the 0.9 km surrounding Nagoya Station, where the land is set to be acquired.

In total, 560 landowners are registered in the sectional area, more than four times the number of landowners JR Tokai is negotiating with to sell their land.

Compensation will be paid to both landowners and leaseholders.

For condominium buildings, which are jointly owned by all residents, JR Tokai must receive consent from every owner — a higher figure than the 80 percent needed to rebuild an entire building.

The company also needs to gain the consent of financial institutions that hold the mortgage rights to some of the land.

“There may be close to 1,000 people involved in this,” said a person well-versed on the issue.

JR Tokai has placed markings about 20 meters apart on the ground in Nishi Ward, including at the Endoji shopping arcade. The markings show where the tunnel will run underground.

“We considered the impact on train passengers and surrounding facilities when determining the depth of the tunnel,” a JR Tokai official explained.

The company hopes to complete negotiations on sectional property rights by the end of fiscal 2018 after obtaining agreement from landowners.

This section, appearing Tuesdays, features topics and issues from the Chubu region covered by the Chunichi Shimbun. The original article was published on Oct. 18.