Tunneling work for a magnetic levitation Shinkansen train line from Tokyo to Nagoya is behind schedule, which could potentially delay the planned start date of 2027.
Work to drill the tunnel more than 40 meters deep using a shield machine began last fall in Tokyo. But Central Japan Railway Co. (JR Tokai) said on Aug. 9 that part of the rig had malfunctioned, which delayed excavation work.
The company plans to repair the equipment by the end of December and resume drilling work by June next year.
Although JR Tokai said this will not affect the overall schedule at this time, it is unclear whether the excavation work will go smoothly.
If problems are found again, it could delay the start date of the Chuo Shinkansen line, which is touted as one of the fastest trains in the world.
The company plans to put the maglev bullet train into operation between the capital’s Shinagawa Station and Nagoya Station in 2027, with a later connection to Osaka.
Nearly 90% of the 286-kilometer maglev line between Tokyo and Nagoya will pass through tunnels.
Deep underground works will be carried out in sections of Tokyo, Kawasaki and Nagoya.
In October last year, JR Tokai launched a survey to determine the impact on the surrounding area by digging horizontally about 300 meters from the 90-meter-deep Kita-Shinagawa emergency exit in Tokyo’s Shinagawa district.
The company planned to complete the survey in about six months, report the results to local communities, and then dig further to Nagoya.
But drilling work has progressed only about 50 meters as digging efficiency has not improved since February, according to JR Tokai.
The shield machine removes the excavated soil using rotating knives.
“When we increased the digging speed, part of the machine broke down,” said an employee. “The earth was sticking to the knives, which made it impossible to dig.”