Japan wants to usher in a new era of high-speed public transport with magnetic levitation, or maglev, trains, but the billion-dollar mammoth project for the first Tokyo-Nagoya line is experiencing problems, Japanese media reported on Saturday.
The maglev train plans to connect the two industrial cities by 2027 and is expected to operate at a maximum speed of 500 kilometres per hour in normal operation.
The majority of the planned 286-kilometre route from the capital to Nagoya should pass through tunnels.
Due to environmental concerns, however, the governor of Shizuoka province along the route has so far refused to consent to preparatory work, Japanese media reported after a meeting between Governor Heita Kawakatsu and the head of the JR Tokai rail company, thus threatening to delay the commissioning of the maglev train.
Residents fear that the construction work could lead to environmental damage in Japan's southern Alps. The underground work threatens to penetrate groundwater, which could affect the flow of at least one river, they say.
This in turn could affect the cultivation of green tea and oranges, for which the province of Shizuoka is known. The governor is not against the mammoth project in principle, but he is first calling for further consultations with experts, the reports said.
In Germany, Transrapid projects were cancelled after long planning phases.
The planned route would reduce the travel time between Tokyo and Nagoya to just 40 minutes. The Shinkansen, Japan's fastest train at the moment which is also known as the bullet train, takes twice the time.
An expansion of the route to Osaka, a city of over 1 million, is expected by 2045. However, should the construction of the route to Nagoya be delayed, the schedule for the extension of the route to Osaka might also be affected, the reports said.