Kim Kyung-wook, Director General of the Railroad Bureau at the
Ministry of Land, Infrastructure and Transport (MOLIT)
"We continue to expand the KTX lines and make the existing railway networks high-speed ones with the goal of reaching anywhere in the nation within one-and-a-half hours via the nationwide KTX network,” said Kim Kyung-wook, Director General of the Railroad Bureau at the Ministry of Land, Infrastructure and Transport (MOLIT). The following are excerpts of an interview with Dir. Gen. Kim in which he spoke of KTX-related policies and the development of the homegrown next-generation KTX train.
Question: Will you tell our readers about the status of current operations of the nation’s high-speed KTX railway and future plans?
Answer: The number of railway stations available with KTX services has risen to 42 as of August 2013 with the Dongdaegu-Busan section of the projected Gyeongbu (Seoul-Busan) Phase 2 high-speed railway network put into commercial service in November 2010 and with the existing high-speed railway lines having been connected with the ordinary railway networks.
We continue to expand the KTX lines and make the existing railway networks high-speed ones with the goal of reaching any place in the nation within 90 minutes. In this regard, the Suseo-Pyeongtaek KTX line and the Osong-Gwangju section of the projected Honam KTX Line are to be put into commercial service by 2015.
KTX services will be available to and from Incheon International Airport within this year by linking the existing KTX Gyeongbu Line, the Gyeongui Line, and the KORAIL Airport Railroad. The beneficiaries of the KTX services will be extended to Pohang by December 2014 as the Shingyeongju-Pohang section of the Donghae-Nambu Line will be connected with the KTX railway network.
Q: What’s about the progress of the Gyeongbu KTX Phase 2 project and plan?
A: The Dongdaegu-Busan portion of the Gyeongbu KTX Phase 2 project went into operation in October 2010. The construction of the Daejeon-Daegu section of the Gyeongbu KTX Line, exclusively for KTX services, is now under way. The Gyeongbu KTX Phase 2 project, whose progress was at 86.5 percent as of the end of this past July, is to be completed by the end of next year. The Gyeongbu KTX Phase 2 project calls for the construction of an 18.2 km-long downtown Daejeon section, a 27.1 km-long downtown Daegu portion, and a 3.89 km-long linkage line on top of the already-opened 124.2 km-long Daegu-Busan section at a total cost of 7.863 trillion won.
Q: Will you elaborate on the construction of the projected Honam KTX Line?
A: The construction of the Osong-Songjeong, Gwangju, section of the planned Honam KTX Line began in May 2009. The projected 182.3 km-long Honam KTX section, now at 68.6 percent progress as of the end of July 2013, is to be dedicated by the end of next year at a total cost of 8.809 trillion won.
KTX train services are offered on the existing ordinary Honam railway network until the new KTX Osong-Songjeong, Gwangju section is completed. The government plans to push for the construction of a KTX line detouring to Muan International Airport, given the views of the Jeollanam-do provincial government in terms of caring for the isolated regions and economic considerations, if conditions ripen.
Q: Will you touch on the development of the homegrown high-speed train KTX-II and the next-generation one as well as future plans?
A: Korea has produced the next-generation high-speed train dubbed the “HEMU-430X” based on its own technology. The HEMU-430X has been test-operated for 26,000 km and it has set the nation’s speed record at 421 km/h to rank fourth in the world following France’s 674km/h, Germany’s 406.9 km/h, and Japan’s 443 km/h.
France set at the world’s speed record of 575 km/h in April 2007 after Japan posted its own speed record of 443 km/h in July 1996 and Germany set its own record of 407 km/h in May 1988. The three countries now dominate the global high-speed railway market. China’s high-speed train ran at its own speed record of 486 km in December 2010 and developed the prototype of a 500 km/h-class high-speed train in December 2011.
A consortium of Korea Railroad Research Institute and 51 other Korean organizations, led by the MOLIT, participated in the next-generation HEMU-430X high-speed train project that cost 141.98 billion won during the period between July 31, 2007 and Sept. 30, 2012.
Q: Will you explain your ministry’s policies to provide support to Korea’s exploration of the foreign high-speed train and railway construction markets?
A: Korea has accumulated expertise and experience by successfully constructing and operating the Gyeongbu and Honam KTX lines and developing the homegrown KTX-II high-speed train, also known as KTX-Sancheon. The nation is now seeking to make inroads into the overseas train and railway markets such as Brazil, the United States, Russia, and Thailand, which all want to build high-speed railway systems. Korea Rail Network Authority (KR) has been awarded an order to offer technology consulting services to the first section of high speed track being undertaken by the California High Speed Railway Authority, so chances for Korea’s participating in the major high speed railway system construction project have risen.
The railway system industry is an industrial field encompassing diverse technologies ranging from construction to operation, rolling stock, and traffic signals, so tapping the overseas railway system markets would require an integration of capabilities in all segments. In this regard, an association established with the goal of providing support for Korean companies’ overseas market entry will play an integral role in conducting projects to tap the overseas markets and promote marketing activities.
The government is implementing diverse packages of support to help Korean firms make inroads into foreign railway system markets such as the holding of railway consultative meetings, talks with foreign ranking officials, technology development, financial support, and manpower development. We’ve invited ranking officials from countries wanting to construct high-speed railway systems, including those who will order the projects. The MOLIT is striving to arrange financial support through such institutions as Korea Eximbank and Korea Trade Insurance Corp. As part of efforts to offer institutional support for Korea’s overseas market entry, the government is seeking to introduce a graduate school specializing in railway manpower development.