JAPAN’s state owned JR Construction Corp announced on February 3 that it had selected routes for shinkansen extensions to Nagasaki and Sapporo (below). This paves the way for the start of environmental assessment, but construction is not envisaged for some years.

The Nagasaki line will leave the Kyushu Shinkansen to Kagoshima at Shin-Tosu and head west to Takeo-Onsen and Ureshino-Onsen before looping south through Isahaya. The Hokkaido Shinkansen will start from the Tohoku terminus at Aomori in Honshu and reach the northern island via the 53·9 km Seikan tunnel. It would follow the present main line as far as Oshamambe, with a station at Shin-Hakodate avoiding a detour into the port. Beyond Oshamambe the shinkansen will diverge from the coastal main line and head through the mountains to reach Sapporo.

On January 20 the government and three ruling parties agreed that the Tohoku, Hokuriku and Kyushu extensions would be formally approved by the end of the financial year on March 31 (RG 2.98 p71). ´6bn has been allocated for the current year, split equally between the three routes; this will enable a start of work this month. However, the bulk of the investment has been delayed until after 2000, when the Tohoku and Kyushu lines will get priority. o