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Japan maglev line risks delay from water row: railway head

Talks underway with local government worried about reduced river flow

Maglev train service between Tokyo and Nagoya is slated to start in 2027.
Maglev train service between Tokyo and Nagoya is slated to start in 2027.

NAGOYA, Japan -- Plans to open a magnetic-levitation rail line between Tokyo and Nagoya in 2027 could suffer delays from a dispute over the effects of construction on a local river, the president of the railway operator overseeing the project said Thursday.

"If we remain unable to start construction, the scheduled launch date could be impacted," Central Japan Railway President Shin Kaneko told a news conference in Tokyo.

"We need to make preparations quickly and move on to the process of tunnel-digging," Kaneko said.

The project requires a tunnel penetrating a mountainous area of Japan called the "Southern Alps." The railway operator, known as JR Tokai, has been in talks with the prefectural government, which is concerned about findings that construction will reduce the flow of water in a local river.

JR Tokai has pressed ahead on parts of the project other than digging the tunnel, such as construction of lodging for workers.

"The parts under construction are nearly completed," Kaneko said. "We hope to bring the construction to the next phase once we gain the understanding of Shizuoka Prefecture."

Asked when that work will begin, Kaneko did not provide specifics, saying that "I hope we can do so as soon as possible."

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