FEBRUARY 17 saw the formal opening of the new Central Japan International Airport, located on a new island in Ise Bay, 35 km south of Nagoya. Centrair is connected to the city centre by a new express rail service using Meitetsu’s Tokoname Line.

Aichi Prefecture is hosting this year’s World Expo in Nagoya, which set the deadline for completion of the new airport. Traffic through the existing Nagoya Airport topped 10·5million in 2001, when the construction of Centrair was authorised. Located on a 470ha artificial island, the single-runway airport will replace the original one, and is expected to handle around 17 million passengers a year.

The airport island is connected to Honshu by a 1·2 km causeway and bridge carrying both road and rail links. The airport company has built the 4·2 km railway from Centrair to Meitetsu’s existing Tokoname terminus, and leased it to the provincial railway to operate.

The 35·1 km Tokoname line, which diverges from Meitetsu’s main line at Kanayama in the southern suburbs of Nagoya, has been upgraded throughout. The trackbed has been strengthened, and 16 curves realigned for higher speeds. A 1·5 km section has been rebuilt on elevated alignment to connect with the airport extension. Total cost of the rail works is put at ´70·8bn, of which the national and municipal governments have contributed ´27bn.

Meitetsu has acquired 54 new EMU cars, including 10 three-car sets with air-spring tilt equipment for the dedicated mSKY airport express service, which was launched on January 29 (RG 3.05 p124). Centrair is served by four Limited Express services each hour, covering the 39·3 km to Nagoya Central in 28min. There are also two conventional expresses per hour, which continue beyond Nagoya to Gifu and Inuyama. One or two of the Limited Express services also run through each hour, serving Gifu, Inuyama and Toyohashi.

Interchange is provided from the airport service to JR Central and Nagoya metro services at both Nagoya Central and Kanayama, where the station has been rebuilt as a bus/rail interchange hub.