SOUTH KOREA: National railway operator Korail has selected Hyundai Rotem to assist with commercialisation of the Korea Train Control System 2, which uses a 4G (LTE-R) communications backbone.

Under the contract announced on last month, Hyundai Rotem is to supply onboard equipment for a pilot project to verify the stability and compatibility of KTCS-2. This will see KTX trainsets operating over a 180 km section of the Jeolla Line between Iksan and Yeosu Expo.

The project is due to be completed in 2022, after which the technology would be made available for commercial applications.

KTCS-2 has been under development since 2015 as a national research and development task, involving the operator, infrastructure manager KRNA, research institutes and various commercial partners. Hyundai Rotem has been working for about three years on development of the onboard unit, which has now been certified to SIL4 by TÜV-SÜD.

At present, the KTX high speed lines and conventional mixed traffic railways across South Korea are equipped with different signalling systems, so high speed trains operating off the dedicated network need to be fitted with both. Signalling commands from the control centre to the trains are transmitted through coded track circuits, but there is no return channel through which the train can report back its performance and condition data.

Subject to the results of the pilot project, KRNA has announced its intention to roll out KTCS-2 on all routes across the country in a phased programme. Standardising on one technology would allow trains to operate more widely across both conventional and high speed lines. Facilitating two-way communication between the train and control room in real time is expected to improve operational efficiency and enable a rapid response to any emergency.

The contract follows a contract awarded by the Ministry of Infrastructure & Transport in November for Hyundai Rotem to provide onboard equipment for a trial of a similar urban railway signalling system. This pilot project will see KTCS-M installed on the 6·6 km Daehwa – Jeongbalsan section of Seoul metro Line 3, and the fitting of one train to operate in driverless mode at GoA4.

As a result, Hyundai Rotem says it plans to expand its signalling business and ramp up its capability to meet projected demand. It estimates that the market for KTCS-2 onboard units could reach about 400bn won by 2024.

Meanwhile, the company’s research department is working on automated train operation for high speed lines, under another national research project launched in 2018. Designated as KTCS-3, this completely wireless system would see the ATO commands overlaid on the CBTC and ATP functionality of KTCS-2.