High-speed Rail in South Korea

High-speed Rail In South Korea

Korea Train eXpress (KTX) is South Korea's high-speed rail system, operated by Korail. Construction began on the first section of the high-speed line from Seoul to Busan in 1992. The project was later split into two phases and combined with conventional line upgrades, adding a second route from Seoul to Mokpo. The system's technology is largely based on the French TGV/LGV system, but domestic development based on transferred technology began early. The first phase of the project was completed and KTX services were launched on April 1, 2004. After missing forecasts and running deficits in the first year, KTX increased ridership and market share, transporting over 100,000 passengers daily and making a profit for Korail since 2007.

The second phase of the Seoul–Busan line entered service on November 1, 2010, with two sections crossing urban areas to be completed by 2014. Construction of a second high-speed line to Mokpo began in December 2009, and is to open in 2014. Other new lines and upgraded conventional lines are in various stages of planning or construction, including one to serve the 2018 Winter Olympics in PyeongChang.

Top speed for trains in regular service is currently 305 km/h (190 mph), though the infrastructure is designed for 350 km/h (217 mph). The initial rolling stock, designated KTX-I, was based on Alstom's TGV Réseau, and was partly built in Korea within the framework of a technology transfer. The domestically developed HSR-350x prototype, which achieved the South Korean rail speed record of 352.4 km/h (219.0 mph) in tests, resulted in a second type of high-speed trains now operated by Korail, the KTX-II, later renamed KTX-Sancheon. Research on another prototype, the HEMU-400X, is underway to develop the 350 km/h (217 mph) KTX-III by 2014.

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