JR Central's L0 maglev train makes a test run in September 2013

Japan maglev construction begins

Central Japan Railway Company has started to build the stations for a magnetic-levitation rail line between the cities of Tokyo and Nagoya, which is expected to open in 2027.

Trains on the Chuo Shinkansen line will run at up to 500km/h and are expected to complete the 286km journey in 40 minutes, less than half the fastest current timing.

Religious ceremonies were held at both terminals on 17 December to pray for safe completion of the work, Japanese media reported.

JR Central (known in Japanese as JR Tokai) operates the existing Tokaido Shinkansen high-speed line serving Tokyo, Nagoya and Osaka, which mainly follows a coastal route. The maglev line will run inland, with much of it tunnelled through mountains. Services will be extended to Osaka by 2045 if all goes to schedule.

Purpose-built Series L0 trains will be fitted with innovative superconducting magnets that can create very large magnetic fields when energised by propulsion coils in the track. This makes it possible to achieve greater acceleration and higher speeds than with standard maglev technology.

Earlier this year JR Central carried out a series of running trials for the new rolling stock at its maglev test track in Yamanashi, giving selected journalists and members of the public the chance to experience train travel at 500km/h.

The company secured government approval for its construction plan in October. It is funding all the work itself, at an estimated cost of 5.5 trillion yen (£30bn) for the Tokyo-Nagoya section.

However, the line has attracted controversy in the areas it will pass through, with residents raising concerns about disruption and environmental damage.

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