The governor of Kyoto Prefecture held meetings with JR West and Ministry of Transportation official to discuss the route of the planned extension of the bullet train line that currently runs from Tokyo to Kanazawa, which is on the west coast of the country.
The proposed route will bring trains down from Kanazawa and pass through Kyoto en route to the terminus in Osaka. The three possible routes are:
1) Maibara Route: use the existing Tokaido Line (the main bullet train line to Tokyo) to head through Shiga Prefecture, and then build from there to Kanazawa.
2) Obama Route: build a new line through Kyoto Prefecture up to Obama, a provincial city in Fukui, and then head up to Kanazawa.
3) Maizuru Route: build a new line through Kyoto Prefecture to the coastal city of Maizuru and then head through Obama up to Kanazawa.
The shortest route is the Maibara Route. It would cost 5.9 billion US dollars to complete. The train from Kyoto to Kanazawa would take one hour and 41 minutes and cost an estimated 11,190 yen for a one-way ticket. The downside of this route is in the event of an emergency the Tokaido Line could not be used - as was the case in the 1995 Kobe earthquake - and trains would not be able to get to Tokyo.
Odds were then placed on the Obama Route, which is more direct than going via Maizuru. Moreover, one-way would take just one hour 19 minutes and cost 8,740 yen. The Maizuru Route, which is more roundabout, would take one hour 31 minutes and cost 11,140 yen. Construction costs are slightly higher for the Obama Route, and are estimated to be 23 billion US dollars.
The issue may come down to bang for your buck. While the Maibara Route is the leader in this category - its economic impact to cost ratio is 2.2 to 1 - news reports hint that Maizuru may be chosen. This is because this route would revitalize whole swaths of the Japan Sea region that is experiencing depopulation and economic decline.
An announcement is expected by the end of the year and trains to begin service in 2022.
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