Central Japan Railway: cost of Nagoya maglev line has risen $14bn

Central Japan Railway (JR Central) has announced that it expects its 290km ultra-high-speed maglev line between Tokyo and Nagoya to cost $64bn, a rise of almost $14bn on the original cost estimate.

It said the rise has been caused by higher-than-expected costs for building certain complicated segments, as well as earthquake-proofing measures and the removal of excavation waste, reports Nikkei Asia. 

Work on the Linear Chuo Shinkansen line began in 2014. It was due to begin commercial service in 2027, however this deadline was put in question last year, when Shizuoka Prefecture decided not to approve construction work over fears of environmental damage.

Farmers in the prefecture objected to the line on the grounds that construction work would cause underground water to flow into the tunnel and reduce water flow in the Oi River, reducing irrigation available for tea gardens and orange orchards, among other crops.

When the line is operational, it will run at up to 500km/h, cutting the journey time between Tokyo and Nagoya from around an hour and a half to 40 minutes.

The line will eventually run between Tokyo and Osaka, its third largest city. Unlike the existing shinkansen trains, which traces the coastline, the maglev will go straight through the south Japanese Alps: as much as 90% of the 500km length of the line will be made up of tunnels.

JR Central also announced that it had made a loss of $2bn for the year ended 31 March, owing to the effect of the coronavirus pandemic on passenger numbers. This is the first loss the company announced since it was privatised in 1987.

Nikkei Asia also reports that sales declined 55% to $7.6bn. The Tokaido Shinkansen linking Tokyo and Osaka, the company’s busiest line, experienced a 66% drop in passenger volume.

The company projects a sharp recovery in the present financial year, with sales rising by 50%, generating a profit of around $80m.

Image: One they built earlier: a Shinkansen train, Hikari 519, at Tokyo station (Pundit/CC BY-SA 4.0)

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