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 Govt may OK direct Tokyo-Osaka maglev line

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PostSubject: Govt may OK direct Tokyo-Osaka maglev line   Thu Oct 21, 2010 3:02 am

The transport ministry is likely to adopt a direct route for the maglev train line that Central Japan Railway Co. will build between Tokyo and Osaka because of its cost-effectiveness.

The route would pass through a tunnel bored through a mountain in the Southern Japanese Alps.
On Wednesday, a subcomittee on the Chuo Shinkansen project at the Land, Infrastructure, Transport and Tourism Ministry's Council for Transport Policy listed the cost-effectiveness of various routes proposed for the maglev train system.

In calculating the ratio of the economic effect to the cost of investment, the panel put the direct route at 1.51 times, while the Inadani route, which would make a long detour around the north of the Southern Japanese Alps, was put at 1.24 times.
The council did not announce the result of the so-called Kisodani route, merely saying its cost-effectiveness was lower than that of the Inadani route.

The calculation of the economic effect of the routes was assigned by the subcommittee to an outside organization.
The subcommittee will compile an interim report by the end of this year and submit it to Land, Infrastructure, Transport and Tourism Minister Sumio Mabuchi by next spring at the earliest.
If the maglev train system is constructed in the manner of a superconducting linear motor system, construction of the direct route will cost about 5.5 trillion yen and the economic effect is expected to be about 8.4 trillion yen.

The Inadani route, which the Nagano prefectural government and neighboring local governments favored, would cost about 6 trillion yen to build, while the economic effect would be about 7.5 trillion yen.

The construction of the direct route would be more cost-effective as the route is shorter, which will make the construction cost lower and attract more passengers than the other routes would.
JR Tokai hopes to open the new maglev train line between Tokyo's Shinagawa Station and Nagoya in 2027, and the maglev line between Tokyo and Osaka in 2045.
The firm expects the direct route to connect Tokyo and Nagoya in 40 minutes, shortening the travel time by about one hour as Shinkansen trains now cover the distance in about 100 minutes.

The focal point of the subcommittee's discussions will now center on whether JR Tokai will be able to bear the financial burden for such a long-term project.
To come up with the 5.1 trillion yen cost of the maglev train cars and the construction of the route between Tokyo and Nagoya, JR Tokai plans to use operating revenue of Tokaido Shinkansen services and take out a long-term loan.

The outstanding balance of the company's long-term debt is expected to swell from about 3.2 trillion yen at the end of June to 5 trillion yen in 2027, the year the maglev train is scheduled to be launched.
"As construction will take a long time, building the maglev line should not be adversely affected by worsening economic conditions," a source close to the subcommittee said.

The subcommittee also has discussed advancing the schedule for opening the Tokyo-Osaka maglev line.

(The Yomiuri Shimbun/Newspaper/)
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