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Japan to go ahead with maglev train despite crisis: company

Prosecutors said the three suspects should have prevented the train from travelling on the part of the track where the 60-tonne maintenance vehicle was parked. They said it was apparent that the control room operator had "simply forgotten" that the vehicle was still on the track.
by Staff Writers
Tokyo (AFP) Dec 26, 2008
The chairman of Central Japan Railway Co. said Friday a costly project to build the next generation of maglev train would go ahead, brushing aside concerns about the impact of the global economic crisis.

The rail operator plans to build the world's fastest passenger train, which would be magnetically levitated above its track between Tokyo and Nagoya central Japan, at a cost of 5.1 trillion yen (56 billion dollars) by 2025.

"We can't expect conditions to be unchanged all the time," chairman Yoshiyuki Kasai told a news conference. "There are some days of good wind and some days of bad wind."

Kasai said that, while the global crisis might lead to a decline in the number of passengers, it could also help cut borrowing costs, which would reduce its expected massive debt on the project.

The company plans to collect funds by itself without relying on government subsidies. It hopes that it can eliminate debt from the project within eight years.

Last week, the Bank of Japan slashed its benchmark interest rate to just 0.1 percent, joining a wave of global cuts as it warned of a sharp deterioration in the world's second-largest economy.

Maglev, or magnetically levitated, trains travel above ground through an electromagnetic pull. The only high-speed maglev train now in commercial operation is in Shanghai.

Japan's maglev will be the fastest passenger train, with a velocity of about 500 kilometres (310 miles) an hour, travelling a distance of 290 kilometres.

The Japanese rail company's magnetic-levitated train hit 581 kilometers an hour in 2003 in a trial run on a test course in Japan's central Yamanashi prefecture.

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China gets on board railway project to speed up economy
Beijing (AFP) Dec 4, 2008
Travelling at 330 kilometres an hour on one of China's fastest trains, businessman Ren Wenzuo had nothing but praise for a multi-billion-dollar plan to spin a web of new rail links across the country.

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