The maglev station currently being built at Shinagawa Station in Tokyo was opened to the media for the first time Friday since work began last year.
Central Japan Railway Co (JR Tokai) showed media the construction site which is 40 meters below Shinagawa Station. The new station will serve as the starting point for its ultra-high speed magnetic levitation (maglev) line that will run between Tokyo and Nagoya.
Work is carried out after the last train service each night and before the day’s first service begins.
The maglev (magnetically levitated train) can reach a top speed of over 500 km/hour. It is expected to be operational by 2027, JR Tokai officials said. The total construction cost is estimated at 5.5 trillion yen, JR Tokai said.
However, opponents have voiced concern about the environmental impact that the construction and long-term operation of the maglev rail would have. Transport ministry officials have urged JR Tokai to make effective use of waste soil and keep local residents in the loop about construction plans.
Environment Ministry experts say that building the 286-kilometer route will require massive excavation work for tunnels and that JR Tokai has yet to present a plan on what it will do with the displaced soil, and what impact the excavation will have on groundwater running down from the mountains.
There will be four stations on the route between Shinagawa and Nagoya. The Shinagawa and Nagoya stations will be about 40 meters underground. The first station after Shinagawa will be Sagamihara in Kanagawa Prefecture (also underground). The next three stops will be above ground in Kofu, Yamanashi Prefecture, Iida, Nagano Prefecture and in Nakatsugawa, Gifu Prefecture.
The travel time will be just 40 minutes, an hour faster than the current time. Nearly 90% of the journey will be underground or through tunnels.
JR Tokai has been conducting test runs on a 42.8-kilometer track in Yamanashi Prefecture.
The maglev train, which is driverless, has five cars, is 2.9 meters wide and 3.1 meters high.
Photo Caption: Journalists are shown the construction site for the maglev train station 40 meters below Shinagawa Station in Tokyo on Friday. Photo: KYODO