[JP] How many Maglev stops?

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[JP] How many Maglev stops?

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Perspectives missing from the debate on the revitalisation of the four linear 'intermediate stations' '
How many stops' is important to attract customers.

The Ministry of Land, Infrastructure and Transport's estimate of the economic impact of increasing the number of stops on the Tokaido Shinkansen line at stations in Shizuoka Prefecture following the full opening of the Linear Central Shinkansen line being built by JR Tokai has been the subject of much debate. The existence of intermediate stations on the Linear Line is also under scrutiny.

Regional revitalisation through 'intermediate stations

The opening of the Linear Line will create a 40-minute link between Shinagawa and Nagoya, and a 67-minute link between Shinagawa and Shin-Osaka, creating a huge metropolitan area integrating the Tokyo, Chukyo and Kinki metropolitan areas. The vision of the future created by the linear system focuses on the economic benefits of connecting three major cities in a short time, but the existence of intermediate stations must not be forgotten.

Kanagawa, Yamanashi, Nagano and Gifu. A symposium was held in Tokyo on 6 November, bringing together the governors of the four prefectures where the Shinagawa-Nagoya intermediate station will be built, with JR Tokai President Shunsuke Niwa in attendance, speaking passionately about the regional revitalisation benefits the intermediate station will bring.

The symposium was organised by the Study Committee on Regional Revitalisation around Intermediate Linear Stations (four stations). The chairman of the committee, Professor Emeritus Shigeru Moriji of the National Graduate Institute for Policy Studies (GRIPS), said that discussions about the intermediate stations have tended to focus on the development effects of the stations' proximity to the three metropolitan areas, and that when the intermediate stations are connected to the highways, each region will be activated as a new large-scale core regional zone and the national land structure will be greatly transformed. The national land structure will be greatly transformed".

For example, an intermediate station in Nagano Prefecture would be located in Iida City. Express buses between Tokyo and Iida and between Osaka and Iida both take well over four hours, but the linear line will take less than an hour. This time-saving effect can be extended to other cities if it is combined with high-standard highways, etc., and not just around the intermediate station. Furthermore, if it is combined with ICT technology to merge the real and the virtual, it will lead to an improvement in Japan's national power.

After Professor Emeritus Moriji introduced the concept of forming a large regional core zone with the Intermediate Station as its core, the governors of the four prefectures presented their regional revitalisation initiatives using the Intermediate Station. Kanagawa Governor Yuji Kuroiwa said, "From Haneda Airport to Shinagawa, it takes 15 minutes by Keikyu. From Shinagawa to Kanagawa Station, it takes about 10 minutes by linear train. Assuming it takes five minutes to change trains, it will take 30 minutes to get to Haneda Airport. After highlighting the benefits of the linear line, he expressed a sense of urgency: "If the linear line goes through, people will be sucked out of the city.

The idea of linking the intermediate station to the Sagami Robot Industry Special Zone, which brings together Japan's most advanced technologies to accelerate the introduction of robots into society, is being considered, including the establishment of an R&D centre near the intermediate station in cooperation with JR Tokai. The project to establish an R&D centre near the intermediate station in cooperation with JR Tokai is being considered.

Governors of other prefectures also presented their own concepts. For example, Governor Kotaro Nagasaki of Yamanashi Prefecture announced a bold idea to build an intermediate station in Yamanashi Prefecture as a transport hub connecting the Chuo Expressway and the Chubu Longitudinal Expressway, and to "consider building an airfield for private jets". He also expressed his enthusiasm for Yamanashi Prefecture to act as a test head, taking advantage of its proximity to the Tokyo area, which is only 25 minutes away by linear train, and to "become a window to the near future where new values are created ahead of the rest of the world".

The Governor of Nagano Prefecture, Morikazu Abe, requested financial support from the Japanese government to promote "the development of related roads that integrate the linear and motorway systems". Hajime Furuta, Governor of Gifu Prefecture, said that as the intermediate station would be built above ground and an elevated bridge 1.3 km long would be constructed, he would "work on the development of the surrounding area so that it does not become a wall separating the districts". He also suggested that the station building should be "a station that fits into the regional landscape and is unique to Gifu Prefecture".

In this respect, the comments of the prefectural governors are limited to regional development measures that make use of the intermediate station and have not yet reached the level of the formation of an extensive core regional zone as described by Professor Emeritus Moriji. As expected, it is not only the efforts of individual prefectures that need to be coordinated, but also those of intermediate station municipalities and surrounding municipalities. Professor Emeritus Moriji added: "The commitment of the state is also necessary. I hope that the national government will also create a system that can do this by changing the national land structure.

Even if only the three metropolitan areas of Tokyo, Nagoya and Osaka develop as a result of the opening of the line, it will not be good for Japan's future if other regions are left behind and rural areas decline. In this respect, the direction of forming a large core regional zone with the intermediate station at its core is not wrong, but there is one thing that worries me. However, there is one thing that worries me: the number of trains stopping at the intermediate station has not been taken into account.

Taking Governor Kuroiwa's "30-minute connection to Haneda Airport" as an example, even if the direct train from Shinagawa Station to the intermediate station in Kanagawa Prefecture takes 10 minutes, if only one train stops at the intermediate station every hour, missing one train means waiting an hour for the next one. This would mean that the journey time would be 1 hour and 30 minutes instead of 30 minutes. This is the same time as the conventional lines (Keikyu Line and JR Yokohama Line).

The estimate mentioned at the beginning of this article that increasing the number of stops of the Tokaido Shinkansen at stations in Shizuoka Prefecture would have an economic impact of over 160 billion yen over 10 years is based on the theory that the increased number of stops would reduce waiting times and shorten the time required to reach a destination, while at the same time increasing the number of passengers by expanding the area that can be reached in the same amount of time. The logic is that this will increase the number of users by increasing the range of destinations that can be reached in the same amount of time. In other words, to make the most of the convenience of linear trains, it is necessary to ensure that they make a sufficient number of stops.

So how many stops per hour is appropriate? When we asked Professor Emeritus Moriji about this, he said that he thought it should be more than the number of stops on the Shizuoka Prefecture line of the Tokaido Shinkansen, which only stops at Hikari and Kodama stations. Shizuoka Station, the closest station to the prefectural capital, and Hamamatsu Station, where large companies are concentrated, have about three stops per hour during the day. Shin-Fuji and Kakegawa stations, on the other hand, have only two stops per hour during the day.

On the other hand, Professor Emeritus Moriji also says that the number of stops per hour is determined by the development of demand at the station. If the number of stops is increased unnecessarily, it does not necessarily mean that the number of passengers will increase. If demand is low, the number of stops will naturally decrease, as the number of passengers will not increase even if more stops are made. Some stations on the Hokkaido Shinkansen have only seven stops per day instead of one stop per hour.

As the Linear Line nears completion and an operating plan is drawn up, the debate on the number of stops at intermediate stations will become more important. JR Tokai is likely to receive requests from various prefectures for as many stops as possible, and the deciding factor will be how much demand there is for intermediate stations.

For this reason, it is important for each prefecture to make a plan from now on to attract users not only from the demand trend around the intermediate station, but also from a wide area throughout the prefecture, so that demand can be significantly increased.
The four prefectures along the line should also approach Shizuoka Prefecture.

The prefectural governors also asked JR Tokai to clarify the opening date. This is because concrete measures cannot be taken until the opening date is decided, and companies considering expanding into the area will not be able to make a decision if the opening date remains undecided.

After leaving the stage, the governors of the four prefectures went to the Prime Minister's Office to meet Prime Minister Fumio Kishida and asked him to give them a forecast for the opening of the Linear Tunnel. Prime Minister Kishida replied that he would like the governors to encourage the municipalities concerned to move forward with the project as a whole.

The governors of the four prefectures should not only rely on JR Tokai and the national government, but also urge Shizuoka Prefecture itself to start construction as soon as possible.

Info based on translated news from https://toyokeizai.net/articles/-/714355 Accessed: 2023-11-13

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