Unexpected construction delays and a tight labor market have made finishing the Hokkaido Shinkansen route to Sapporo by the end of the 2030 fiscal year problematic, although officials continue to say it will open on schedule.
Along with the Rapidus semiconductor plant in Chitose, the Hokkaido Shinkansen is a nationally supported project that the prefecture is counting on to help revive the local economy. The 212-kilometer route now under construction will link cities between Hakodate, at the southern tip of the prefecture, and Sapporo, completing a project that began in 2012 to connect Aomori Prefecture to Sapporo via shinkansen. Along the way to and from Sapporo, the train will stop at the ski resort town of Kutchan, close to Niseko, as well as the port city of Otaru.
The first part of the Hokkaido Shinkansen, the 149 km route between Shin-Aomori station and Shin-Hakodate-Hokuto, near the port city of Hakodate, opened in 2016. Once the Hokkaido Shinkansen is extended to Sapporo, it will be possible to travel from Sapporo to Shin-Aomori, and then by Tohoku Shinkansen all the way to Tokyo. Total travel time will be five hours, as opposed to the nine hours by shinkansen and regular train service now required.