Monday, June 6, 2022

Seikan Tunnel in Japan

Japan’s 53.85km Seikan railway tunnel passes beneath the Tsugaru Strait and connects the Aomori Prefecture on Honshu Island and the Hokkaido Island. The tunnel contains a rail line, and the building of the tunnel was sponsored by the Japanese National Railways.

Before the existence of the tunnel, ferries provided transport between the two islands. In 1954, a typhoon sank five ferry boats in Japan's Tsugaru Strait and killed 1,430 people. In response to public outrage, the Japanese government searched for a safer way to cross the dangerous strait. The following year, Japanese National Railways (JNR) expedited the tunnel feasibility study.

As early as 1946, Japan began looking at ways to build a fixed connection between the main island of Honshu and the nation’s second largest island to the north, Hokkaido. Conceptual planning of the Seikan tunnel was completed during 1939-40.

Construction of the tunnel began in 1964 and was completed in 1988. The digging employed as many as 3,000 workers at one time and took 34 lives in all because of cave-ins, flooding, and other mishaps.

Once the tunnel was completed, all railway transport between Honshu and Hokkaido used it. The freight and passenger services were started in March 1988. However, for passenger transport, 90% of people use air travel due to the speed and cost.
Seikan Tunnel in Japan

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