PRESIDENT Kim Dae-jung of South Korea formally opened the initial test section of the Seoul - Pusan high speed line on December 16. Now known as Korea Train Express (KTX), the project has been rescheduled so that Korea High Speed Rail Construction Authority launches 300 km/h services between Seoul and Taejon in December 2003.

The existing line from Taegu to Pusan is being electrified at 25 kV 60Hz, and this will allow KTX services to reach Pusan in April 2004. By that time new construction will have been completed between Taejon and Taegu, with links built so that trains can serve the existing city centre stations in those cities. This will complete Phase I of the project.

Phase II consists of a 118·3 km new line from Taegu to Pusan via Kyongju, plus construction of new underground stations in Taejon and Taegu with associated sections of new line. Target date for completion of this is 2010, when the Seoul - Pusan journey time should come down to 116min from 4 h 10min now. The distance from the capital to Pusan will then be cut from 445to 412 km.

So far only the 34·4 km Poongse - Hyundo part of the 57·2 km test section between Chonan and Taejon has been completed. This is being used by KTX to trial the prototype trainsets, the aim being to accumulate 40000 km with the first two. Alstom is fabricating 12 trains in France, and five have already been sent to Korea. They will be joined by 34 units being put together in Korea under a technology transfer deal. Each TGV-derived KTX trainset is formed of two power cars enclosing 18 articulated trailers. The outer ends of the two end trailers are mounted on powered bogies, giving 12 powered axles in all.

Testing will include gaining experience with the TVM430 signalling and train control equipment which is identical to that used on TGV Nord. Drivers are being trained on a Simkor simulator developed by Cory-Tess of Grenoble and installed at KNR's Chulto college in Pugok.

Cost of the KTX project is put at US$16·3bn, of which US$11·3bn is for Phase 1. KHRSC raised 55% through loans (24%), bonds (29%) and private capital (2%), and government finance covers the remaining 45%.

KTX suppliers

Much of the work was handled by the Korea TGV consortium (RG 11.96 p735). This consists of Alstom (rolling stock), Eukorail, LG Cable, Koros (Korea Rolling Stock Corp), CSEE Transport, Samsung Electronics Co, LG Industrial Systems, and Iljin Electric & Machinery Co.

Track: Halla Engineering, Hyundai Development Co, Daewoo Corp, Korea Heavy Industries & Construction Co, Hanshin Construction Co, SK Engineering & Construction, Hanjin Heavy Industrials & Construction

Track fastenings: Pandrol

Trackbed design: Systra

Construction supervision: DE-Consult, Ingerop

Project management: Bechtel International

Train radio: Motorola Inc

Catenary vehicles: Windhoff

  • CAPTION: Taking part in the opening ceremony on December 16 were, from right to left: Yoo Sang-yeol, Chairman of Korea High Speed Rail Construction Authority; local resident Park Kwan-kyoo; President Kim Dae-jung; Lee Kun-choon, Minister of Construction & Transport; Kim Il-yoon, Chairman of the National Assembly's Construction & Transport Committee; National Assembly Member Shin Kyung-sik; and Alstom Chairman & Chief Executive Officer Pierre Bilger
  • CAPTION: Below right: At 4030m, the Woonju tunnel is the longest on the test section. The portals are bell shaped to reduce pressure waves as trains enter and leave the bore
  • CAPTION: The station built into the viaduct at Baebang-Myon, Asan City, South Chungchong, has four storeys above ground and one below and is due to open in July 2003