Transport infrastructure provides lasting legacy of Nagano 1998

Sixteen years after it hosted the 1998 Olympic Winter Games, the improvements made to the local transport infrastructure are still benefiting the Japanese city of Nagano.

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© IOC / Christian Klaue President Bach at the Super Sprint World Championship Women’s finals in Hamburg.

Before the Games, it took up to three hours to travel between Tokyo and Nagano by rail, but the extension of the Shinkansen Bullet Train from Takasaki to Nagano – which was completed five months before the 1998 Opening Ceremony – reduced the 200km journey to less than 80 minutes.

The city's main railway hub, Nagano Station, and the smaller Shinonoi Station, were also expanded ahead of Nagano 1998, with the line carrying up to 60,000 passengers per day during the Games.

The route now carries more than 10 million passengers each year, and the train line is currently being extended from Nagano through the Hokuriku region to Toyama and Kanazawa, with the route expected to be operational by 2015, while construction of a further section is set to reach Fukui and Tsuruga by 2026.

Ahead of the 1998, improvements were also made to the local road network in the Nagano prefecture, with two main expressways – the Nagano expressway and the Joshinetsu expressway – being built to improve access between Nagano, Tokyo and other prefectures, as well as the competition venues.

A local road network linking the Olympic venues was also created, with almost 115km of road improved ahead of the Games. In particular, the 25.2km Shiga Route helped improve access to the Shiga ski resort area, while also providing direct access to the Shiga Kogen national park.

But the new transport links are not the only legacy of the 1998 Winter Games.

After the Games were finished, the Nagano Olympic Museum was established inside the M-Wave arena, which was the venue for the speed skating events. Today, the Olympic torch, medals, video images and other items are on display there.

Each year in April, the city also hosts the Nagano Olympic Commemorative Marathon, which sees participants run past four of the former Olympic venues.

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