Airborne train move from Japan: One of the symbols representing Japan's economic power after World War II is the world's first high-speed train system that passed through Mount Fuji and was activated before the Tokyo Olympics in 2.
50 years later, Prime Minister Shinzo Abe wants to use a new development in train technology to show that Japan can think big even after 20 years of economic stagnation. Operating the original high-speed train linking Tokyo and Osaka, the company wants to build a train line that will cover the distance between the two cities in just over an hour. Thus, the distance between the two cities will be reduced to half the current one.
This renovation will cost dearly. With the cost of $ 90 billion, it is argued that the project may be the most expensive railway in the world so far. It is also stated that this will be the first railway between cities using magnetic levitation (maglev) technology. With this technology, the train stays in the air above the rails for several centimeters, and can travel faster than 500 kilometers per hour. Thus, magnetic levitation trains can travel 200 kilometers faster than the fastest train known as Shinkansen.
Hiroo Ichikawa, author of the book "The Real Reason Maglevin Will Change Japan," and professor at Meiji University in Tokyo, stated that it is important for Japan to lead the new trains as many countries including China develop their own high-speed train systems.
The project is expected to receive the final approval from the Abe government this year, with construction expected to begin in early 2015. Abe stated that these trains could return to Japan's future major exports. Abe, who presented this technology to US President Barack Obama, proposed to reduce the train distance between New York and Washington to 1 hour.
However, not everyone shares this vision of Japan.
Critics say this new railroad is part of infrastructure projects to strengthen the Japanese economy during deflation, and claims that the only thing the maglev train will create is the empty seats, as the Japanese population is projected to decline from the current 127 million to the 100 million in the middle of this century.
Reijiro Hashiyama, visiting professor at Chiba Commerce University, wrote in an anti-maglev book, “21. "There are serious doubts about whether the demand for high-speed trains will increase or not in our country, whose population is expected to decline in the XNUMXst century."
Central Japan Railway Co. 9022.TO + 0.03% indicate that the new railway will attract 88 million passengers annually. The company anticipates that the new line will attract 143 million new passengers from the Tokyo-Osaka high-speed train line, which currently carries 72 million passengers per year.
The company plans to make the new line with the money from the current Tokyo-Osaka Shinkansen line instead of tax money to avoid possible criticism.
However, as the company known as JR Central is not expected to collect all the money at once, the company will complete the maglev lines in two stages. The first stage between Tokyo-Nagoya is not expected to be completed until 2027, 7 years after the second Tokyo Olympics will take place. The second stage between Nagoya and Osaka is expected to last until 2045.
Osaka is lobbying for the Abe government to use public money to accelerate the project, and some ruling party lawmakers passed a bill in April to complete the Osaka phase with the first phase. No decision has yet been made on the subject.
Unlike the current train system Shinkansen, which connects Tokyo and Nagoya, the maglev railway is planned to pass through the middle of the Japanese Alps. Environmentalists are concerned about millions of cubic meters of excavation, as 90 percent of the line will consist of tunnels.
"This has to be seen as the biggest environmental disaster or the most devastating project of the period after World War II," said Kimie Asaka, a 64-year-old activist living in Sagamihara, near Tokyo. Asaka joined a group of protesters who raised their concerns to the Ministry of Environment last month.
JN Central, one of the 1987 companies, which was established in 6 with the privatization of the Japanese national railway system, said the route was taken from a government plan dated 1973. This plan was designed as an alternative route if Shinkansen was destroyed by an earthquake or tsunami.
Ichikawa of Meiji University suggested that the declining Japanese population was the best reason for maglev building. The train is expected to complete the 286 kilometers between Tokyo and Nagoya in about 40 minutes and save 1 hour. Ichikawa stated that the two cities will thus turn into a single metropolis and the economy will gain momentum with the financial power of Tokyo and the manufacturing power of Toyota Motor 7203.TO -0.70% Corp. around Nagoya under a single roof.
"In the future, Tokyo and Nagoya will be the main engines of growth," said Ichikawa, "The government can spend the money in distressed areas if they want, but someone has to earn it."
The maglev line known as Chuo Shinkansen can result in profitable for Japanese engineering companies such as Mitsubishi and Nippon Sharyo.
The government also sought buyers from foreign countries. However, Japan has had limited success in marketing the current high-speed trains that have so far traveled at 320 kilometers per hour.
For years, Japan competed with Germany to commercialize maglev technology. Germany's project called Transrapid was put into operation in a 30-kilometer section of Shanghai city transport in 2004. However, an accident during a test conducted in Germany in 2006 reduced support for Transrapid.
In meetings with Obama, Abe offered to help establish a maglev line between New York and Washington, and stated that Japan could offer the technology for free. The office set up by JR Central in Washington is lobbying for the establishment of the line with a private company called Northeast Maglev. The company's advisory board includes former Senate Majority Leader Tom Daschle and New York Governor George Pataki.
JR Central introduced the technology to many leading people. "I think it's great," said Caroline Kennedy, the US Ambassador to Japan, who took the train with Abe in April.
However, analysts are skeptical about JR Central's sales efforts, especially in the US. Because the company has not yet built a system as expensive as maglev, nor has it even built a real high-speed train line.
Supporters of Maglev technology say their operating costs are lower than high speed trains. However, it is stated that the installation cost may be higher than the normal fast train even without including the tunnels in the Tokyo-Osaka line.
“It's really difficult for technology like this to be able to sell overseas,” said Paul Wan, analyst at CLSA.