Govt May Call for Speeding Up Shinkansen Seismic Reinforcement

Politics Lifestyle Society

Tokyo, May 17 (Jiji Press)--The Japanese transport ministry will consider requesting Japan Railways Group firms to accelerate work on seismic reinforcement for facilities for Shinkansen bullet trains, it was learned Tuesday.

The possible request will come after East Japan Railway Co. <9020>, or JR East, suspended part of operations of its Tohoku Shinkansen Line for a long period following a strong earthquake that mainly hit Fukushima and Miyagi prefectures, both in the Tohoku northeastern Japan region, in mid-March.

JR companies are reinforcing bridge piers and electricity poles against possible large earthquakes, but costs are a hurdle. Officials of the ministry pointed to the possibility of discussions being made on allowing them to increase Shinkansen fares to cover the reinforcement work costs.

Transport minister Tetsuo Saito told a news conference Tuesday that a panel of experts will be set up to consider measures to minimize earthquake damage for Shinkansen operations, including those for preventing derailment.

While noting that the panel will address technological aspects, Saito said that "broad discussions" will be held if the panel concludes that an acceleration of the seismic reinforcement work and measures to cover costs are necessary. The first meeting of the panel will be held May 31.

[Copyright The Jiji Press, Ltd.]

Jiji Press