A project to build a new railway line linking Wonju and Gangneung is well on its way, with a completion date set for next December, just in time for the 2018 PyeongChang Winter Games, said Roh Byoung Kuk, Gangwon Regional Office head of Korea Rail Network Authority (KR).
All work on railroad bed for the 120.7 km-long route, which is part of the Incheon International Airport-Gangneung Line, is nearly finished.
The following are excerpts of an interview between NewsWorld and Roh in which he touched on construction progress and such issues as eco-friendly construction methods and safety policies.
This map shows stations and altitude of a new railway line linking Wonju and Gangneung.
This map shows the Wongju-Gangneung section of the KTX Olympic Line, now being improved or newly built in time for the hosting of the the 2018 PyeongChang Winter Olympics.
Question: Will you tell our readers about the current status of the constructing of the railway connecting Incheon International Airport and Gangneung?
Answer: The railway is designed to support Korea’s hosting the 2018 PyeongChang Winter Olympics. It is divided into two parts. The first is a project to transform the conventional railway line between Incheon International Airport and Wonju into a high-speed one.
In 2014, KR established a comprehensive plan to convert the existing railway line into a high-speed line in support of the hosting of the 2018 PyeongChang Winter Olympics.
KR’s Seoul Metropolitan Regional Office is carrying out the project to improve tracks, electric car lines and signal systems of the existing Incheon International Airport; New Gyeongui; Gyeongwon; and Jungang lines. It will result in an increase of train speed from the current 100-120 km/h to 150-230 km/h.
The second part is a project to build a new railway line linking Wonju and Gangneung, which is under the purview of KR’s Gangwon Regional Office.
The project to build the 120.7 km-long line connecting Seo-wonju Station on the Jungang Line and Gangneung Station on the Yeongdong Line was launched in 2012, and progress now stands at 62.3 percent, with all work on the railroad bed in the finishing stage.
The next steps involve laying tracks, establishing architecture and system projects. The line is slated to be open in December 2017.
Scenes of building the Jucheongang Bridge, a part of the new Wonju-Gangneung railway line.
Q: Will you introduce the construction engineering methods being employed for the construction of the Wonju-Gangneung double-track electrified railway line?
A: The Free Cantilever Method (FCM) has been employed for the construction of the 256-meter part of a combined 621 meter-long Jucheongang Bridge on the fourth construction section of the Wonju-Gangneung Line.
That work is to be finished in September. The technology allows for the construction of the upper-deck structure to be done in segments, with form travelers, while maintaining a balance between the right and the left of the top of the already-built bridge.
The FCM is used to construct bridges over rivers and over otherwise inaccessible terrain.
The Upgraded Pipe Roof Structures Method (UPRS) is being applied to the 80-meter part of a combined 1,656 meter-long 2nd Chilbong Tunnel on the 11-1 section of the Wongju-Gangneung Line. This work is to be completed by July.
The 11-1 section is a portion in Gangneung City with the 2nd Chilbong Tunnel, which goes under the Donghae Expressway.
The UPRS technology is employed to make a tunnel through terrain that would be unfavorable for an arch formation, thus ensuring the stability of the structure of the Donghae Expressway.
The technology allows for pre-assembled steel beams to be connected to each other with rebar, and filling them with mortar.
The 1,160 meter part of a combined 2,860 meter-long Gangneung Tunnel on the 11-3 construction section of the Wonju-Gangneung Line is being built with the Shield Tunnel Boring Machine (TBM) method. It is to be completed in September.
The technology is employed to address possible civic complaints related to the passing of the tunnel in downtown Gangneung and construction problems concerning the preservation of cultural properties.
The tunnel is being constructed without civic complaints.
Compared to the conventional blasting methods, the company is employing the technology that reduces noise and vibrations in its tunnel boring machines, and minimizes the impact on transportation and pedestrian passage, as well as clustered buildings and houses in neighborhood areas.
The method has proved to be successful in cutting down on construction period and costing less in the construction of extremely long tunnels.
The Wonju-Gangneung railway project employs a KR-developed rail fastening system, which departs from a dependency on imported technology.
Four Korean companies are participating in the installation of 340,000 sets of fastening systems on the 136 km-long line, localizing the related technology 100 percent, having an effect of substituting imports worth a combined 15.1 billion won.
Q: How do you overcome problems concerning the tunneling of the Daegwalleong Tunnel?
A: The Daegwalleong Tunnel is on the ninth and tenth construction section of the Wonju-Gangneung Line. The tunnel, measuring 21.755 km long and 770 m in depth, is the longest among the 34 tunnels being built along the line.
The Daegwalleong Tunnel is also the longest tunnel in Korea through mountainous terrain. In fact, the Ulhyeon Tunnel, a 50.3 km-long part of the Seoul Metropolitan High-speed Line, which completed tunneling last June 23, is the longest tunnel in Korea on a flatland.
Four inclined conduits have been installed, and excavations have been made simultaneously at up to 10 locations to reduce the construction period. Excavations and linings have been carried out at the same time to secure the time required to open the Wonju-Gangneung Line.
The Daegwalleong Tunnel was tunneled in 41 months after a groundbreaking took place in June 2012.
That was three months ahead of schedule. During the process, an aggregate 259,600 workers were mobilized around the clock on a daily basis for about three years, and it cost about 250 billion won. Currently, work on tracks and systems are performed simultaneously on top of residual civil engineering work. All works on the tunnel are to be completed by next March.
Large-sized ventilation facilities and mobile dust collectors have been installed to prevent accidents and protect crew’s health from dusts during the construction of the long tunnel. Such engineering methods as the pre-large hoe boring machine (PLHBM) technology have been employed to minimize blasting vibration.
An ecological monitoring service has been commissioned in cooperation with environmental organizations to preserve the natural environment of the Baekdudaegan Mountain Range and carry out the tunneling in an eco-friendly fashion.
Roh Byoung Kuk, KR’s Gangwon Regional Office head, makes an inspection tour to a section of a new railway line being built between Wongju and Gangneung.
Q: Will you elaborate on steps to protect the environment in the course of the constructing of the Wonju-Gangneung Line?
A: First, we endeavor to make the construction of the Daegwalleong Tunnel, which is in the buffer zone of the Baekdudaegan Mountain Range, eco-friendly by conducting a joint ecological monitoring project in cooperation with environment bodies.
The area damaged by the construction of the tunnel in the buffer zone has been minimized, and such ecological features as mammals, amphibians and underground water have been monitored with environment bodies for 34 months from March 2013 through last December continually to reduce environmental damage.
A three-year long effort to monitor ecological factors and reduce environmental damage have resulted in the protection of 15 mammals, including a legally protected leopard cat, yellow-throated marten, and Siberian flying squirrel.
No ecological disturbances, caused by the construction of the tunnel, have been found in such arenas as underground water and amphibians. It not only takes on significance that an environmental monitoring service into a mega-state project has been carried out in cooperation with environment organizations for the first time, but also the construction of the tunnel has proven anew to be eco-friendly.
Second, silt protectors have been installed and put in place to prevent the contamination of underground water.
Third, such facilities as grit chamber and car wheeling cleaning systems have been installed, and air and water contamination checks have been made frequently.
Fourth, an ex-post facto environmental impact assessment has been conducted to prevent environmental contamination.
The Daegwalleong Tunnel has been tunneled in 41 months after a ground-breaking ceremony took place in June 2012. Heavy equipment and latest engineering methods have been employed to penetrate the Daegwalleong Tunnel. (Photos: KR’s Gangwon Regional Office)
Q: What steps do you take to prevent safety accidents and manage quality?
A: First, the Gangwon Regional Office conducts “3.3.3. Safety Campaign” and “4.4.4. Anti-Accident Drive” to prevent accidents. True to the 4.4.4. Anti-Accident Drive, crew members are required to check into the personal protection apparatus and education every four days, inspect safety equipment every 14 days and test construction equipment every 24 days.
Second, a mobile calamity notification app, developed by KR is in place to promote safety management and cope with accidents immediately.
Third, we strive to have no major accidents by posting safety officials been to “My Safety Areas” and time.
Fourth, workers with a field career of less than three months have teamed up with mentors. New workers and foreign crew are required to wear yellow caps.
Educational programs on safety are offered to 134 foreign crew members from six countries according to construction sections and their own work areas.