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  • Writer's pictureAdam German

Postponement of Hokkaido Shinkansen extension likely to create property development delays

On April 21st, the Nikkei Shimbun reported that the federal government has abandoned the plan to extend the Hokkaido Shinkansen to Sapporo by the end of fiscal 2030 and has entered discussions to postpone it.  

 

This decision may affect real estate redevelopment efforts and discussions surrounding parallel conventional lines in municipalities along the extension route, such as Sapporo City. 

 

Fiscal year 2030 refers to the period between April 1st, 2030, to March 31st, 2031. 

 

The completion of this extension has often been quoted as a key reason for Niseko’s further capital appreciation with the Kutchan station opening making access to Tokyo much easier than now. 

  

Originally scheduled to open in the spring of 2031, the extension of the Hokkaido Shinkansen aims to connect the current terminal of Shin-Hakodate-Hokuto Station to Sapporo Station, with key stops along the way.  

 

Hokkaido Shinkansen Extension Map

Solid red indicates existing Shinkansen line, red dotted indicates the extension route. Courtesy of the Nikkei Shimbun, edited by Patience Realty. 

 

Currently, this route takes roughly three and a half hours by express train on conventional train lines, but with the extension of the Shinkansen, the travel time would be reduced to just over an hour. 

  

However, there are challenges such as soaring material prices and difficulties in construction, particularly tunnel excavation.  

 

In December of 2022, the Ministry of Land, Infrastructure, Transport, and Tourism (MLIT) announced estimates that not only indicated delays in construction but also projected that the project cost for the extension would swell by about 40% from the initial estimate to approximately 2.3 trillion yen. 

  

Parts of the extension project are already up to four years behind schedule. With Sapporo's bid for the Winter Olympics and Paralympics on hold, the urgency to expedite the Sapporo extension has diminished. 

  

The delay in the extension opening is likely to stall property redevelopment efforts in Sapporo. JR Hokkaido has been advancing a redevelopment project for Sapporo Station in tandem with the introduction of the Shinkansen.  

 

Sapporo Station Redevelopment Finished CG Image

Sapporo station redevelopment finished CG, courtesy of JR Hokkaido 2022 press release, linked below. 

 

Originally aiming for completion by fiscal year 2028, the company has begun considering delaying the completion date due to escalating project costs, among other factors. 

  

With the construction of the Rapidas semiconductor factory intensifying coupled with an overall shortage of construction workers in the region, there is strong pressure for wage increases.  

 

It is hoped that delaying the Shinkansen extension opening could provide leeway in the construction schedule, buying time to potentially lead to overall cost containment for the entire project.   

 

Source: 

Nikkei Shimbun (Japanese only; paywalled) 

 

JR Hokkaido Sapporo Station Redevelopment Press Release (May, 2022; Japanese only) 

Sapporo Station Redevelopment Press Release 5.2022
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