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The Tokyo - Osaka High Speed MAGLEV Gets Green Light

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The Tokyo - Osaka High Speed MAGLEV Gets Green Light

The Tokyo - Osaka High Speed MAGLEV Gets Green Light

May 31, 2011 (HE58).  The Central Japan Railway Company (CJR), announced that it can now start construction of the Chuo Shinkansen Maglev line between Tokyo, Nagoya and finally Osaka. The Minister of Land, Infrastructure, Transport and Tourism, Akihiro Ohata, gave the go-ahead to CJR on May 27, 2011. The design maximum speed will be 505 km/h.  The project is expected to cost 9 trillion yen.

Since receiving the final government approval to start the final planning phase in December 2010, CJR has been making environmental assessments for the part of the route that passes through the Southern Alps to north of Mount Fuji.  The announcement by the Transport Minister means the project can move ahead towards the construction phase, which is expected to start in April 2014.

''This is a long awaited announcement and a major breakthrough for maglev.  The cost of the Tokyo-Osaka maglev at 9 trillion yen represents 6 times the annual income of Central Japan Railway which has undertaken the full cost of the line'', said Dr. John Harding, the former Maglev Chief Scientist for the U.S. Federal Railroad Administration. (http://tinyurl.com/3dxrfuu).

Already in December 2007, CJR announced it is prepared to pay the full cost of the project (other than possibly some stations which have multiple purposes).  The start for expenditures on the new line is at the end of repayments to the government for the ground facilities of the Tokaido Shinkansen, 5.1 trillion yen in 1987.  This is expected to be around 2015.  After this profits will soar and federal income tax will take a large portion. Construction of the new line will diminish profit and lower taxes.

In fact, work is already underway to extend the superconducting maglev Yamanashi test track to 42.8 km, with full completion planned for 2012. Last year, the railway ordered a 'pre-production' fleet of 14 Series L0 maglev vehicles for the extended test track, which will start delivery in 2012 with just some maglev vehicles for the test runs.

Construction of the maglev route is intended to relieve the existing Tokaido Shinkansen line and cut travel time between the three main cities of the Honshu Island.  It would put Nagoya at around 40 min from Tokyo and Osaka at only slightly over one hour.  Sources at CJR said, they would strive to carry out the Chuo Shinkansen project as soon as possible, with the cooperation of the municipalities and others.  However, local authorities had previously requested additional intermediate stations and, at this point, it is uncertain whether more stations can be provided due to schedule and budget constraints: It appears that the direct route for the maglev line has been prescribed, rather than the round-about route favored by intermediate cities.  This would have increased cost as well as added time to every trip.

The test track will become part of the new line between Tokyo and Nagoya when the initial 290 km section opens in 2027.  The opening of the remainder of the line to Osaka should take place before 2045.

(This Highlight is based on the May 28th release by the “International Maglevboard, e.V.”, see http://www.maglevboard.net/; we also used information contained in official CJR releases accessible at http://english.jr-central.co.jp/)

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