Construction on the Hokkaido Shinkansen to Sapporo has been postponed. A delay of several years due to cancellation of hosting the Olympics

Niseko real estate News

It was revealed on the 6th that the Hokkaido Shinkansen Shin-Hakodate-Hokuto-Sapporo section (212km), which is scheduled to open at the end of 2030, has been delayed for several years due to construction work being delayed. With Sapporo City’s decision to change its bid for the Winter Olympics to 2034 or later, a government official said on the same day that there is no longer any reason to rush the Sapporo extension, and the environment has been created to postpone the opening of the Shinkansen to Sapporo. He recognized that this was the case. The Ministry of Land, Infrastructure, Transport and Tourism, the Japan Railway Construction and Transport Facility Development Support Agency (JRJ), which is the main body for construction, and JR Hokkaido will now begin making adjustments regarding the postponement period, etc.

Even if the Shinkansen opens as planned in March 2031, at the end of fiscal 2030, it will not be ready in time for the Winter Olympics, which will be held around February 2030. However, if the bid is successful, the opening should be brought forward and in time for the Olympics. There was a possibility that political demands for this would increase. For this reason, it was thought that it would be difficult to make a decision on postponing the opening until the direction of the bid was decided.

Construction has been delayed for about four years at the Hirafu Yotei Tunnel (5.6 km), which is currently being constructed between Kutchan Town and Niseko Town in the Goshi District, which collided with a huge group of rocks. Excavation work in this section has been halted for more than two years, and excavation will resume in November, but the excavation route involves complex geological formations and similar rock masses are being investigated.

Furthermore, from next year onwards, the 2024 problem will be imposed, which will impose a cap on overtime hours in the construction industry. Construction of elevated bridges, which require more manpower than tunnels, is also in full swing, and there is a strong possibility that equipment and personnel will be concentrated at the next-generation semiconductor factory being built by Lapidus (Tokyo) in Chitose City.

While construction on the Sapporo extension has been significantly delayed, it is possible to increase the number of personnel and equipment for tunnel construction and accelerate the pace by increasing construction costs. “It won’t be approved, but if we double or triple the construction cost, we might be able to make it in time,” said a source at a major general contractor. However, a senior Ministry of Land, Infrastructure, Transport and Tourism official expressed skepticism, saying, “Even if we had the money, we wouldn’t be able to secure the personnel, so it would be impossible.”

At the end of last year, the Ministry of Land, Infrastructure, Transport and Tourism estimated that the project cost would be 2.315 trillion yen, 645 billion yen more than the original cost, due to soaring labor and material costs, and just asked the prefectural government and Sapporo city to cover the cost. Another senior official at the Ministry of Land, Infrastructure, Transport and Tourism admits, “Officially, the Olympics and the Shinkansen are not linked, but they are linked behind the scenes.” As construction costs for public works soared, the bid to host the 2030 Sapporo Olympics, which had been the last basis for securing funding, disappeared, making it difficult to gain approval for budget increases.

Niseko real estate company CEO’s perspective

“It will be fine until the Shinkansen opens.” This is a phrase that investors and financial institutions often hear when talking about rising land prices in Niseko and investing in condominiums. This is a term used by people who view the market in a relatively pessimistic and passive manner. I think the news of the Shinkansen Sapporo extension had a big impact on these people.

However, in other words, as the period “until the Shinkansen arrives” has been extended, “expected demand” has also increased during that time.

The Niseko area is approximately 2 hours by car from New Chitose Airport. It’s not an easily accessible place. It also takes time for connecting flights and loading and unloading luggage.

In that sense, if you can come directly to Niseko from Tokyo Station, it will save you time and effort during transit. It can be seen as a “positive” view that the enthusiasm for investment has not yet cooled due to these “expectations.”