Date
21 August 2017
Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and US Ambassador Caroline Kennedy sit inside a maglev train undergoing testing in Tokyo. Photo: WSJ
Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and US Ambassador Caroline Kennedy sit inside a maglev train undergoing testing in Tokyo. Photo: WSJ

Japan gives maglev train green light

Japan has given the go-ahead for the world’s fastest rail line that can whisk passengers from Tokyo to the industrial hub of Nagoya at more than 480 kilometers per hour, the Wall Street Journal reported.

Trains will run on magnetic levitation technology on a 286-kilometer line that would cut travel between the two cities to 40 minutes, less than half of the current time.

Central Japan Railway Co. hopes to complete construction of the railway line by 2027, with an eventual onward link to Osaka.

The approval came about two weeks after Japan celebrated the 50th anniversary of the opening of the original Tokyo-Osaka bullet train line, the world’s first high-speed train.

When completed, the new line will represent a further leap in railway development.

Maglev technology uses powerful magnetic charges to move train cars that float several inches above a concrete guideway rather than riding on steel wheels.

Although a short maglev line has been operating in Shanghai since 2004, the Tokyo-Nagoya line is the first intercity link in the world to gain public approval.

Supporters of the new line say it is needed to relieve crowding on the original bullet train.

They also hail it as a demonstration of Japan’s technological prowess at a time when Tokyo is looking to boost the nation’s train system exports.

Opponents have raised questions about the cost of the project, its environmental impact and whether it is needed. Most of the route will run through tunnels under some of Japan’s highest mountains.

JR Central puts the cost of the line to Nagoya at US$52 billion, the report said.

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