Railway lines to be reconnected include Gyeongui Line linking Pyonyang and Shinuiju; Donghae Line to Wonsan and Rajin; and Gyeongwon Line connecting Mt. Gumgang
2nd Vice Minister Kim Jeong-yeol of the Ministry of Land, Infrastructure and Transport, R, shakes hands with Park Ho-yong, head of North Korrean delegation to discuss the reconnection of the railroads of the two divided Koreas in Panmunjom on June 28. (Photos: Ministry of Unification)
Things are changing on the Korean peninsula. On April 27, a historic meeting between the leaders of North and South Korea was held at the South Korean side of the Joint Security Area, near the village of Panmunjom. Although the political (and symbolic) level of the meeting dominated coverage, the Panmunjom Declaration defined various specific points of cooperation between North and South. Among those, the declaration includes a blueprint for building transport connections between North Korea and the world.
Basically, the new declaration resurrects projects previously agreed to in October 2007 during the previous inter-Korean summit and released in the 2007 October 4 Declaration. According to the Panmunjom Declaration, “The two sides agreed to adopt practical steps towards the connection and modernization of the railways and roads on the eastern transportation corridor as well as between Seoul and Sinujiu for their utilization.”
During the April summit, South Korea’s President Moon Jae-in reportedly presented a plan to reconstruct three cross-border railways to the North. The plan includes taking practical steps to utilize the west coast Gyeongui railway, east coast Donghae railway, and Gyeongwon line located in the middle of the peninsula.
The 309-mile-long Gyeongui line was a railway line of the Chosen Government Railway (a state-owned railway company in Korea under Japanese rule) running from Seoul to the city of Sinuiju, located on the border between North Korea and China. The standard gauge (1,435 mm) railway connected the Korean railway system to the rest of Asia and even Europe. The current idea is to repeat history by using this line to connect South Korea with the Chinese railway network.
After the partition of Korea in 1945, the Gyeongui line was divided between North and South Korea. After the Korean War armistice was signed in 1953, southern train service ran between Seoul and Munsan only and the northern branch terminated at Kaesong. North Korea renamed the southern Pyongyang-Kaesong section of the line the Pyongbu line and the northern Pyongyang-Sinuiju section the Pyongui line.
The North Korea part of the Gyeongui line is fully electrified, although the double track section spans only from Pyongyang to Sunan airport (15.7 miles). The Pyongbu line is the only line in the North where speeds of up to 60 miles/hour are permitted.
Between 2000 and 2004, the Gyeongui line was reconnected through the Demilitarized Zone border area and southern passenger service was extended to Dorasan at the edge of the DMZ. In 2007, North and South Korea agreed to continue the railway reconstruction project: on May 17, 2007 the first train carrying North and South Korean delegations traveled from Munsan Station in the South to Kaesong in the North. Later, however, the agreement to restore the full line lapsed due to political tensions.
The Donghae railway is a railway line on the eastern Korean coast; parts of the line are in use, but some are in the planning phase. The cross-border part of the line. known as the Donghae Bukbu line, was reopened in 2007 to provide access to the Mount Kumgang Tourist Region, then open to South Korean tourists. Operations started on May 17, 2007 and the line carried trains for a brief period during 2007 and 2008. The line continues into the North Korea as the Kumgangsan Chongnyon line, which is electrified.
The Donghae railway will connect the South with North Korea’s third-largest city, Chongjin, and Rajin, which has the highest GDP per capita in North Korea thanks to the Rason industrial zone. It will also link South Korea with Russia and the Trans-Siberian mainline. The third line possibly scheduled for reopening is the Gyeongwon line located in the middle of the peninsula. The ambitious plans, which include construction of a high-speed line between Seoul and Pyongyang, are estimated to cost $35 billion.
The final question regarding cross-border railway lines between two Koreas is the most important question for any traffic infrastructure project – and that is how it will be used. The cities of Seoul and Pyongyang will generate significant amounts of passenger traffic if and when the border procedures are relaxed enough for normal travel.
The potential for freight is even more interesting — South Korea is certainly very keen to connect their railway system with the systems in China and Russia. Completing these cross-border links with the North means that in the future South Korea will be connected to China’s Belt and Road and the Trans-Siberian railway, enabling rail transportation between South Korea and Europe.
남북 도로 연결·현대화를 위한 남북공동연구조사 등 합의
6. 28. ｢남북도로협력 분과회담｣ 개최
6월 28일 남북은 판문점 북측 지역 통일각에서 ｢남북도로협력분과회담｣을 진행하였습니다.
회담에는 김정렬 국토교통부 제2차관(수석대표), 이주태 통일부 교류협력국장, 백승근 국토교통부
도로국장 등 우리측 대표단 3명과 박호영 국토환경보호성 부상(수석대표), 김기철 국토환경보호성 처장,
류창만 민족경제협력위원회 부장 등 북측 대표단 3명이 참석하였습니다.
※ 전체회의 2회, 수석대표접촉 1회, 대표접촉 2회
남과 북은 판문점선언의 동해선·경의선 도로 연결 및 현대화 이행을 위한 실천적 방안을
마련하기 위하여 다음과 같이 합의하였습니다.
첫째, 남과 북은 동해선‧경의선 도로 현대화 사업이 민족경제의 균형적 발전과 공동번영을
이룩하는 데서 중요한 의의를 가진다는 입장을 확인하고, 앞으로 이 사업을 동시에 추진해
둘째, 남과 북은 동해선‧경의선 도로 현대화를 위한 범위와 대상, 수준과 방법 등 실천적으로
제기되는 방안들을 협의‧확정하기로 하였습니다.
① 도로 현대화 구간은 동해선은 고성에서 원산까지, 경의선은 개성에서 평양까지로 정하며,
앞으로 이를 더욱 확대해 나가기로 하였습니다.
② 공사범위와 현대화 수준은 동해선‧경의선 도로 현대화 구간의 제반대상
(도로, 구조물, 안전시설물, 운영시설물)을 국제기준에 준하여 지역적 특성에 맞게 정하는 것으로 하였습니다.
③ 도로 현대화를 위한 설계와 시공은 공동으로 진행하기로 하였습니다.
④ 착공식은 필요한 준비가 이루어지는데 따라 조속한 시일내에 진행하기로 하였습니다.
셋째, 남과 북은 당면하여 도로 현대화 구간에 대한 공동조사를 선행하기로 하였습니다.
① 이를 위해 남북 도로 연결 및 현대화를 위한 공동연구조사단을 먼저 구성하기로 하였습니다.
② 현지공동조사는 8월 초 경의선부터 시작하고, 이어 동해선에서 진행하기로 하였습니다.
넷째, 남과 북은 도로 현대화의 기술적 토대를 마련하기 위해 도로건설과 운영에서 필요한
선진기술의 공동개발에 협력해 나가기로 하였습니다.
마지막으로, 남과 북은 동해선‧경의선 도로 현대화 구간에 대한 공동조사와 관련한 실천적 문제들을
문서교환방식으로 계속 협의 해결해 나가며 필요에 따라 쌍방 실무접촉도 진행하기로 하였습니다.
정부는 오늘 남북도로협력 분과회담에서 남북 도로 연결과 현대화를 위해 합의한 사항들을 충실하게
이행하여, 판문점선언의 정신에 따라 남북관계 발전에 기여할 수 있도록 최선을 다해 노력하겠습니다.