SOUTH KOREA'S Ministry of Construction & Transport announced on July 27 that it intends to develop jointly with the Ministry of Science & Technology a high speed train capable of running in service at 400 km/h. The project to build a 'High-Speed Electric Multiple-Unit - 400 km/h' is expected to take six years and will cost 76·6bn won.

A transport ministry official told the Korean Times that 'the development of updated technologies is essential amid global competition', emphasising that South Korea sees high speed rail as a future growth industry.

Existing 300 km/h services are also expanding fast. The daily total of seats available in August 2005 was 73302, and this is set to double under current plans with more trains on the Seoul - Mokpo and Sunchon - Yosu lines.

The fastest journey between Seoul and Pusan has already been cut by two hours to 2h 34min since the launch of KTX 300 km/h services in April 2004, and this will be further trimmed to 1h 45min when the high speed line between Taegu and Pusan is completed.