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2008年10月31日 (金)

リニア新幹線

2008/10/31--The Asahi Shimbun, Oct. 30(IHT/Asahi: October 31,2008)

EDITORIAL: Maglev Shinkansen plan

リニア新幹線―大いなる期待と懸念

Plans for the magnetically levitated (maglev) Chuo Shinkansen by Central Japan Railway Co. (JR Tokai) are starting to move forward. The company submitted the results of its survey to the Ministry of Land, Infrastructure, Transport and Tourism, saying it is possible to build the railway in a straight route through the Southern Japanese Alps.

 JR東海によるリニア中央新幹線の計画が動き出した。同社が「南アルプスを貫く直線ルートでの建設が可能」との調査結果を国土交通省に報告した。

JR Tokai will now look into technical and economic viability and advance procedures to obtain approval. The company plans to start construction within two to three years and open the line in 2025.

今後は技術や採算を調査し、認可手続きを進める。2~3年内に着工し25年開業をめざすという。 

The superconductive maglev train, which holds the world speed record in rail travel at 581 kph, is a product of advanced transportation technology. In the envisioned commercial operation, it will link Tokyo and Nagoya in 40 to 50 minutes, traveling at a maximum speed of 500 kph. There are also future plans to extend the line to Osaka.

 この超伝導リニアモーターカーは、鉄道の世界最高速度、時速581キロの記録をもつ夢の高速技術だ。営業では最高時速500キロで東京~名古屋間を40~50分で結ぶ。将来は大阪までの延伸も想定している。 

The construction cost between Tokyo and Nagoya is estimated at 5 trillion yen. JR Tokai said it will cover the entire cost by itself without relying on government subsidies.

 東京~名古屋の建設費は約5兆円。JR東海は政府の補助金に頼らず、すべて独力でまかなうという。 

Since 1987, when the former Japanese National Railways was broken up and privatized, none of the JR companies has built a Shinkansen line on its own. Although JR Tokai has a solid financial base with its lucrative Tokaido Shinkansen service, building the maglev line on its own would show the positive results of privatization.

 JR発足後も新幹線を自前で建設した例はない。JR東海は稼ぎ頭の東海道新幹線を抱えていて体力があるとはいえ、リニアを自力建設できるなら民営化の成果といえよう。 

The potential economic effects of the maglev train service are enormous. If the major urban areas of Tokyo and Nagoya are directly linked and the line is extended to Osaka, the three cities could form a single economic bloc that includes Kansai.

 リニアの経済効果はきわめて大きい。東・名の大都市圏が直結し、大阪まで延伸すれば関西を含めて一つの経済圏になりうる。

If Tokyo and Osaka can be linked within an hour or so, air travelers could shift to the maglev service, allowing Haneda Airport in Tokyo to increase the number of international flights and strengthen its role as the gateway to Tokyo by air.

東~阪が1時間程度になれば空の客がリニアへ移り、羽田空港に国際線の増便余地が生まれて「空の玄関」も強化できる。 

In 2025, the Tokaido Shinkansen Line will be over 60 years old. If the line's operation is suspended due to major repair work or disasters such as earthquakes, the maglev line would serve as a bypass.

 東海道新幹線が25年には還暦を過ぎる。大補修や大地震で止まったときにリニアはバイパス役を果たす。 

The world's first superconductive maglev technology is expected to revitalize Japanese industries. Countries around the world are taking a new look at railway services, which are more energy-efficient than transportation by airplanes and cars. Already, there is an investment rush. The maglev project can lead the move.

 世界初の超伝導リニア技術は、日本の産業を活性化させると期待できる。航空や自動車よりエネルギー効率がいい鉄道は世界各国で見直され、投資ラッシュが始まっている。リニアはそのリード役にもなるだろう。 

Although the project may be undertaken by a private company, railways have a major impact on national life, the economy and society, and are highly public in nature.

 ただし、民間会社の事業といっても国民生活や経済社会に与える影響はきわめて大きく、公共性が高い。

The government and related organizations must properly check the validity of the plan and advance it with the consent of the public as well as related local governments.

計画の妥当性を政府や関係機関がきちんとチェックし、国民や関係自治体の合意のもとに進めねばならない。 

We urge JR Tokai to listen to the views of users, local governments and the business world and establish a forum to discuss the problems from various viewpoints, such as traffic and industrial policies.

 利用者や自治体、経済界など幅広い層から意見を聴き、交通政策や産業政策などさまざまな観点から議論する場を設けるべきだろう。 

Local governments, including Nagano Prefecture, are intent on bringing the line and building stations within their jurisdictions. Japan has a bitter history of allowing politics tied to special interests to interfere with railway construction.

 長野県など自治体はルートや駅の誘致に関心が強く、ややもすると利害調整に追われやすい。利権政治が鉄道建設に介入を繰り返した苦い歴史もある。

What kind of railway network will befit Japan in the 21st century? We urge the parties concerned to discuss how the development of the country and domestic industries should be from a broad perspective.

21世紀の日本にふさわしい鉄道網とは何か。国土や産業のあり方などを幅広く議論してほしい。 

Of course, since this is a challenge that uses new technology, there are many concerns.

 もちろん、初の技術への挑戦だけに、心配も尽きない。 

Can safety be secured? Will the technology really have no negative effect on the health of passengers and residents who live along the route? What about the impact on the environment of the Southern Alps?

 安全は確保されるのか。乗客や沿線住民の健康面は本当に大丈夫か。南アルプスの環境に悪影響はないか。

And at a time when the population is declining, can the line really be profitable?

これから人口減少が進むなかで、採算性に心配はないか。

Although JR Tokai says it will cover the construction cost by itself, much of the funds will come from fares paid by passengers. If the plan fails, it could cause great damage to the nation.

自前とはいえ、建設費の大元は乗客が払う運賃だ。失敗したら、国民的な損失は大きい。 

In order to make the dream come true, JR Tokai is responsible for dispelling such concerns and winning public understanding.

 夢を現実のものにするためにも、このような懸念を一掃し、国民を納得させる責任がJR東海にはある。 

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