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Assessment of the improvement in energy intensity by the new high-speed railway in Japan


Energy intensity improvement is an influential policy agenda for global environmental problem-solving and sustainability enhancement. This study focuses on inter-regional networks’ impact on energy intensity and statistically examines whether the improvement of such networks promotes a modal shift from passenger vehicles to railways. The results indicate the nonlinear relationship between the improvement of inter-regional networks and the variation of the passenger vehicle sector’s energy consumption. Furthermore, the results reveal that the laying of high-speed railways, which helps strengthen inter-regional networks, can significantly improve regional energy intensity. This result has valuable implications for Japan’s national land plan. The high-quality transportation infrastructure, such as high-speed railways, to be introduced in the country can potentially change the energy consumption patterns in inter-regional travel and improve energy intensity. Our results suggest that the installation of the high-speed railway will effectively reduce carbon dioxide emissions. This revelation is expected to provide new policy evidence to scholars and policymakers.

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  1. 1.

    See MLIT (2017) for more details on the calculation of travel time.

  2. 2.

    Available data on Japanese regional production activities ranges till 2016. However, the 2008 SNA data standard was employed from 2015, thus making it impossible to connect data before 2006. A long-term time series is necessary to obtain reliable estimation results. Therefore, this study employs the 1993 SNA standard to utilize the long-term time series. The most recent year of the data standard is 2014, which can be connected to data from the 1990s and 2000s.

  3. 3.

    See the Sect. 5 for calculations of the time-distance changes as a result of the opening of the Linear Chuo Shinkansen.


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The author thanks the reviewers whose comments have improved the quality of this paper.


This study was supported by the Japan Society for the Promotion of Science under Grant no. 18K01614.

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Correspondence to Akihiro Otsuka.

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The author declares that the manuscript does not involve any conflict of interest. The funding sponsors had no role in the design of the study; collection, analyses, or interpretation of the data; writing of the manuscript; or the decision to publish the results.

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Calculation of travel time reduction as a result of the opening of the Linear Chuo Shinkansen.

The reduction of the travel time as a result of the opening of the Linear Chuo Shinkansen is calculated as follows. First, the current travel time when the Linear Chuo Shinkansen is not opened is employed as a criterion for the calculation. In other words, it is assumed that the current Shinkansen is used as a means of transportation. Thus, when any two of Shinagawa, Nagoya, and Shin-Osaka Stations are selected as the transportation route, the travel time realized by the opening of the Linear-Chuo Shinkansen is calculated by subtracting the value in Table 6 from the travel time before the opening; see MLIT (2017) for details.

Table 6 Travel time reduction by opening the Linear Chuo Shinkansen (min)

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Otsuka, A. Assessment of the improvement in energy intensity by the new high-speed railway in Japan. Asia-Pac J Reg Sci (2020).

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  • Inter-regional network
  • High-speed railway
  • Modal shift
  • Energy intensity
  • Panel data analysis

JEL classification

  • Q40
  • Q50
  • R10