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Citizens' group to file suit to stop maglev bullet train project

A prototype maglev bullet train is seen at a testing facility in Tsuru, Yamanashi Prefecture, in this April 21, 2015 file photo. (Mainichi)

A citizens' group is poised to file a lawsuit on May 20 demanding that the project approval for the Chuo Shinkansen maglev bullet train line connecting Tokyo and Nagoya be revoked, the group announced on May 12.

Some 740 people from Kanagawa, Yamanashi, Nagano, Shizuoka, Gifu and Aichi prefectures plus Tokyo are party to the suit, which will be filed at the Tokyo District Court.

Central Japan Railway Co. (JR Central)'s maglev line is scheduled to open in 2027, linking Tokyo's Shinagawa with Nagoya in as little as 40 minutes. The construction plan was approved by the Ministry of Land, Infrastructure, Transport and Tourism in October 2014, based on the Nationwide Shinkansen Railway Development Act. The project is expected to cost about 5.5 trillion yen, and 86 percent of its 286-kilometer length will be underground.

In their complaint, the plaintiffs say that "approval of the building plan was illegal," as the required environmental review failed to properly address problems including the risk of rupturing underground waterways and the volume of excavated earth the construction will produce, the group's legal team told a news conference in Tokyo. The complainants also intend to argue that the maglev plan fails to meet transport safety and business viability standards set out under the Railway Business Act.

"There are active faults along the projected route, so there are also serious questions about whether safety can be guaranteed in an earthquake," legal team representative Yasuo Sekijima said on May 12.

JR Central stated that the company would "put all its effort toward making the Chuo Shinkansen Line a reality soon."

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