The Hokuriku Shinkansen (北陸新幹線) will be a high-speed Shinkansen rail line in Japan. The first section, between Takasaki and Nagano, currently called the Nagano Shinkansen, opened on 1 October 1997.
Future plans for the Hokuriku Shinkansen eventually include extension as far as Osaka via Toyama, Kanazawa and Fukui. Parts of the 162.1 km section to Toyama began as early as 1993, and as of 2011, construction is currently underway as far as Kanazawa. Breakthrough for the 22.2 km Iiyama tunnel, the longest on the line, was achieved on December 3, 2007.
Completion of the track as far as Toyama is expected by 2012, with service to Kanazawa scheduled to commence in spring 2015. Final permission to start construction to Fukui was granted in December 2011, with modification works to Fukui Station already in progress for several years in anticipation of the extension. The extension to Tsuruga was approved for construction on June 30, 2012. Beyond Jōetsu Station, the line will be operated by West Japan Railway Company (JR West) instead of East Japan Railway Company (JR East).
The final leg from Tsuruga to Osaka is not yet finalized. There are three options under consideration:
Wakasa Route (若狭ルート?): Build new track via Obama and Maizuru. Shortest route to Osaka, but also the most expensive (est. 1 trillion yen), and would likely bypass Kyoto.
Maibara Route (米原ルート?): Build new track to Maibara Station. One third of the length of the Wakasa Route, good access towards Kyoto and Nagoya. Longer travel time to Osaka, and trains would have to use the existing, already near-capacity Tōkaidō Shinkansen tracks between Maibara and Osaka.
Kosei Line Option (湖西線利用?): No new track; instead, upgrade the Kosei Line to support Mini-Shinkansen or Gauge Change Train (GCT) operations. By far the cheapest option, but train speeds will be limited to 160 km/h and hence travel times will be long.
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