Chuo Shinkansen will take you from Tokyo to Nagoya in just 40 minutes…but no one is sure when.

Right now, if you want to take the train from Tokyo to Nagoya, the fastest way is to hop on the Nozomi Shinkansen at Tokyo’s Shinagawa Station, which will get you to Nagoya in an hour and 28 minutes. That’s pretty fast, but Central Japan Railway Company, a.k.a. JR Tokai, wants to let you make the trip in less than half that time.

That’s the plan, anyway, for the currently in-development Chuo Shinkansen. The line’s maglev trains will be able to make the Tokyo-Nagoya journey in just 40 minutes…but there’s going to be a lot of waiting around until that’s an actual travel option. Originally, JR Tokai said it was going to have the Tokyo-Nagpya section of the line up and running in 2027, but in a meeting with the Japanese government’s Ministry of Land, Infrastructure, Transport and Tourism, JR Tokai president Shunsuke Niwa said that the company has determined that it will be impossible to make that target.

The sticking point is a short section of the track that runs though Shizuoka, one of the prefectures between Tokyo and Aichi Prefecture (where Nagoya is located). The Shizuoka Prefectural government is opposed to building track in that location, citing concerns about the water level of the Oi River being lowered by leaking into a tunnel that would be built in the vicinity of the waterway. There’s also some speculation that the real reason for the Shizuoka government’s expressed concern is really just a ploy to pressure JR Tokai into altering the route so that it’ll pass below Shizuoka Airport, and hey, if it’s going to, why not have JR Tokai build a station there too to that the prefecture’s air hub can attract more travelers?

Whatever the actual reason is, though, the Shizuoka government has continued to oppose the current construction plan. Though nearly 7 years have passed since the original plan was set, track construction has yet to so much as begin in Shizuoka, with JR now concluding that there’s no longer enough time to start and finish it by 2027.

The portion of the planned route that would run through Shizuoka is just 9 kilometers (5.6 miles long), so with the Chuo Shinkansen having a projected top speed of 505 kilometers per hour, the contested section would make up a miniscule part of the total trip. However, the line won’t go from Tokyo to Nagoya as long as there’s any gap along the way, so those 9 kilometers are currently holding up the entire project. “We are currently unable make a new estimate as to when we will be able to begin service [of the Chuo Shinkansen linear motor car line], but we are making all efforts to open the line as soon as possible,” said Niwa in speaking to the ministry. Japanese public broadcaster NHK estimates, though, that even if construction were to begin immediately, it would take until 2034 for the maglev Shinkansen to be ready to start carrying passengers.

Source: Yahoo Japan News/Nitele News via Hachima Kiko, NHK News Web, Asahi Shimbun, Nikkei Asia (1, 2)
Top image: Wikipedia/ひろばのさるの
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