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Railroad says Korean-built bullet train is not fit to run

Sept 30,2004
The Korean National Railroad says tests of South Korea’s self-designed bullet train, the G-7, have turned up serious flaws that could push back the target date for its rollout on the Seoul-Jeolla province line.
Fully developed by the Korea Railroad Research Institute in late 2002, the plan was to purchase 100 trains, for an estimated 300 billion won ($250 million), and put them to work on the Seoul-Jeolla province line by 2007.
But a document on a trial run, submitted to Representative Cho Gyeong-tae of the governing Uri Party by the Korean National Railroad, exposed major problems in the train’s core components, and in parts that affect its ability to accelerate and deaccelerate.
These flaws make the trains unsuitable for the line that extends from Seoul to the southwestern Jeolla provinces, which has more stops than other routes, the document said. The G-7, with an expected maximum speed of 350 kilometers per hour (210 mph), is faster than the KTX. Made with technology provided by French firm Alstom, and in service since April 1, the KTX can reach a speed of 300 kilometers per hour after five to six minutes.
According to the document, one of the major problems is in the train’s motor block.
The national railroad wrote in its report, “The failure of a motor block, an important device in a bullet train, is a cause for concern. Because we have yet to determine exactly what caused a component in the block to burn, there is a question of credibility hanging over the train.” The document also raised concerns over the braking system.
In addition to the train itself, the document listed unstable signal systems, and expressed concern about possible conflicts with French Alstom over patents and technologies.


by Shin Yong-ho


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