Japan Delays Extension of Hokkaido Shinkansen Line until 2031


Japan Delays Extension of Hokkaido Shinkansen Line until 2031

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According to government sources on Saturday, the plan to extend the Hokkaido Shinkansen Line to Sapporo by the spring of 2031 is poised for postponement. This delay is attributed to construction setbacks and Sapporo’s decision to withdraw its bid for the 2030 Winter Olympics. The transport ministry and Hokkaido Railway Co. will collaborate to establish a new timeline. However, challenges persist, particularly in the form of a labor shortage in the construction sector, expected to intensify with the introduction of new overtime regulations in Japan in 2024.

This development arises as certain construction phases are already projected to lag up to four years behind schedule due to various issues, including a substantial rock obstructing tunnel construction.

Even if the construction had proceeded as planned, the completion of the bullet train to Sapporo would not have aligned with the Olympics timeline.

A senior ministry official noted that the ministry had been cautious about promptly announcing a postponement, in case Sapporo emerged as the host city for the Games, potentially accelerating the completion schedule.

On Friday, sources familiar with the matter disclosed that Sapporo is poised to relinquish its bid for the 2030 Winter Olympics, instead setting its sights on hosting the games in 2034 or beyond.

The government initially sanctioned the extension of the bullet train line in 2012, with an estimated cost of ¥1.67 trillion ($11.2 billion). Last year, this estimate surged to ¥2.32 trillion due to escalating material costs.



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