Central Japan Railway Co. said Friday it has given up its plan to launch a new high-speed maglev train between Tokyo and Nagoya in 2027 amid long-running environmental opposition in Shizuoka Prefecture, pushing back the schedule possibly to 2034 or later.

"While we cannot project a new opening date, we will continue to do everything we can toward launching as soon as possible," JR Central President Shunsuke Niwa said at a panel meeting at the transport ministry.

Another JR Central senior executive at the meeting suggested the delays mean the project may not open until 2034 or later, citing the original plans that required 10 years for construction. The executive said there are few prospects of shortening the process.

File photo taken in October 2022 shows a Linear Chuo Shinkansen maglev train on a test run in Yamanashi Prefecture. (Kyodo)

The Linear Chuo Shinkansen project is intended to link Tokyo and Osaka with trains traveling up to 500 kilometers per hour. But a small area on the section between the capital and Nagoya has proved a stumbling block for the project, due mostly to opposition by the central prefecture of Shizuoka.

Shizuoka Gov. Heita Kawakatsu has cited environmental impact concerns in opposing the project, which requires extensive tunnels for the vast majority of its 286-km route to Nagoya. Construction of the around 8.9 km of tunnels through Shizuoka Prefecture has yet to begin.

In a statement issued Friday after JR Central's decision, Kawakatsu said he "will as quickly as possible make progress in talks with JR (Central) toward balancing the promotion of the Linear Shinkansen project and environmental preservation."

A 710-meter tunnel is completed in Fujikawa, Yamanashi Prefecture, on Oct. 13, 2023, for Central Japan Railway Co.'s Linear Chuo Shinkansen maglev trains that will run between Nagoya and Tokyo at speeds of about 500 kilometers per hour. (Kyodo) ==Kyodo

A document from JR Central issued ahead of the meeting cites the inability for construction to begin in the Shizuoka section as the "direct cause" for the delay in completing the Nagoya leg.

Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshimasa Hayashi said the government will continue to move ahead "to facilitate an early opening."

In December, JR Central revised its opening date to 2027 or later, but maintained it was not the case that it had abandoned delivery by the target year or delayed the project.

The high-speed rail line was intended to be rolled out in two phases, with the Nagoya leg set for 2027 and the Osaka extension in 2037.

Once completed, the project is expected to link Tokyo and Nagoya in as little as 40 minutes, and shorten the travel time between the capital and Osaka to just 67 minutes -- under half the fastest times on existing shinkansen bullet trains.

JR Central has said the new line could bring about economic benefits from faster transit times, and serve as a vital backup between the country's three major metropolises in the event of major disasters such as powerful earthquakes involving potential tsunami.

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FOCUS: Japan maglev train project being derailed by Shizuoka stalemate