Mount Nōtori, one of the major peaks in the Akaishi Mountains, in Japan’s Southern Alps (Alpsdake/Wikimedia Commons)

Japanese residents oppose super-fast maglev train on safety, environmental grounds

24 May 2016 | By GCR Staff 1 Comment

A group of more than 700 people have filed a lawsuit in the Tokyo District Court in an attempt to block the construction of a magnetically levitated (maglev) train line near their homes by Central Japan Railway Co.

Concern over extensive tunnelling in the country’s Southern Alps (pictured) is one of their objections.

Known as JR Central, the operator obtained permission in October 2014 to build the 286-km line linking Tokyo with Nagoya in Aichi Prefecture, central Japan.

The group, composed of residents of Tokyo and six affected prefectures, wants building permission retracted on the grounds that JR Central’s application fell short of standards required by Japan’s railways law, reports Japan Today.

They also claim that the planned route, most of which is underground or in tunnels, threatens to disrupt groundwater along the line and the natural environment in Japan’s Southern Alps.

JR Central has already begun construction on the line with a view to launching it in 2027. The firm broke ground on platform facilities at Tokyo’s Shinagawa Station in January.

JR Central’s blueprints lack provisions to ensure passenger safety in the event of emergencies such as earthquakes and fires, and the huge construction cost threatens to make the line unprofitable, the plaintiffs argue.

With a top speed of 500km/h, JR Central expects the maglev to run between Tokyo and Nagoya in just 40 minutes, roughly half the travel time on the current fastest bullet train.

Photograph: Mount Nōtori, one of the major peaks in the Akaishi Mountains, in Japan’s Southern Alps (Alpsdake/Wikimedia Commons)