ON OCTOBER 11 Russian and South Korean government representatives agreed to establish a bilateral committee to progress the development of rail links between the two countries. The accord was reached at the end of a four-day visit to Seoul, which also discussed progress with reinstating the cross-border link between South and North Korea.

RZD opened an office in Pyongyang in mid-September, to co-ordinate work on the reconstruction of the Trans-Korean corridor. Following the signing of a memorandum of understanding by President Vladimir Putin and Kim Jong-Il in August (RG 9.01 p575), a team of Russian experts has already started work on surveying bridges and tunnels along NKR’s east coast route between Pyongyang and the Russian border at Khasan, where it connects to a branch of the Trans-Siberian Railway.

The project team is preparing a feasibility study for bringing the 930 km route up to Russian standards. According to Russian officials, this could include conversion of some or all of the line to 1524mm gauge. The actual reconstruction work is expected to take around two years to complete, at a cost of US$250m. Preliminary traffic estimates suggest that the investment could be recouped in between three and five years.