The Chou Shinkansen line will be served by the new Series L0 (L Zero) maglev trainsets. Image courtesy of Maryland GovPics.
A Series L0 (L Zero) maglev trainset registered a world record top speed of 603km/h on the Yamanashi Maglev test line in April 2015. Image courtesy of Hisagi.
The 285.6km-long Chou Shinkansen line will reduce the travel time between Tokyo and Nagoya by 50%, compared to the existing Tokaido Shinkansen maglev line. Image courtesy of Yosemite.

The Chuo Shinkansen (also known as the Tokaido Shinkansen Bypass) is a new rail line being constructed in phases, based on the Japanese Superconducting Magnetic Levitation (Maglev) system.

It will connect Tokyo and Nagoya, providing a more direct line and reducing the travel time between the two cities by approximately 50%, compared to the existing Tokaido Shinkansen maglev line.

The project is being developed by Central Japan Railway Company (JR Central), who will oversee all the construction and financial aspects of the project.

“The new line under phase 1 is expected to be operational in 2027.”

The initial section of the maglev line, which forms the first phase of the project, will stretch from Shinagawa to Nagoya. The overall investment in the phase 1 is estimated to be JPY5.52tn ($52bn approximately), which also includes the rolling stock cost.

The new line under phase 1 is expected to be operational in 2027.

Chuo Shinkansen development details

The topographical and geological studies for the project were commenced in 1990 and completed in 2009, while the project’s consultation phase was performed from late 2008 to late-2009. JR Central was granted the consent to serve as the owner and operator of the project in May 2011.

The draft environmental impact statement (DEIS) for phase 1 was released in September 2013, and the approval for the construction implementation plan was granted by the Minister of Land, Infrastructure, Transport and Tourism in October 2014. The preparation works for the construction of the two stations (phase 1) at both ends commenced in December 2014.

The construction of the Southern Alps Tunnel within the Yamanashi Prefecture commenced in December 2015, and the construction of the underground Shinagawa Station commenced in January 2016.

Chuo Shinkansen design and construction details

Phase 1 will involve the construction of a 285.6km-long superconductive maglev line, comprising 256.6km of tunnels, 23.6km of viaducts, 11.3km of bridges, and 4.1km of rail beds.

The route will have a minimum curve radius of 1,000m and a maximum grade of 40%, while the distance between the track centres will be more than 5.8m. The route will be designed for a maximum speed of 505km/h.

Phase 1 will incorporate six stations, the Shinagawa Station, the Nagoya Station, and one station each at Kanagawa Prefecture, Yamanashi Prefecture, Nagano Prefecture, and Gifo Prefecture. The Kanagawa Prefecture and Gifo Prefecture will further integrate a train depot each.

Yamanashi Maglev test line and Series L0 (L Zero) rolling stock

Long-distance running tests are being conducted on the Yamanashi Maglev test line, which was constructed solely for the Chuo Shinkansen project, deploying new Series L0 (L Zero) Maglev trainsets.

In April 2015, a Series L0 (L Zero) Maglev train recorded a maximum daily travelling distance of 4,064km, and also registered a world record top speed of 603km/h on the route.

JR Central has ordered for 14 Series L0 (L zero) Maglev trains to serve as the rolling stock for the route, the first of which was delivered in November 2012.