One year later, KTX faces rider shortfalls, complaints
Airlines and buses may grieve over losses during the past year as passengers use the Korea Train Express. But the Korean government said its passenger goals for the KTX have fallen short.
The government hoped 155,000 people would use the new bullet trains every day. But only 72,000 people have been using KTX daily, barely half of expectations.
This means the fare income is short. While they expected an average daily income of 4.6 billion won ($4.5 million), the Korea Railroad Corp. had to settle for 2.1 billion won.
Korea Railroad Corp. was 4.9 trillion won in debt when it started KTX service a year ago. By opening various subsidiary businesses, its goal was to pay off its accumulated debt by 2010.
But with current passenger figures and not many subsidiary business plans operating at the moment, the corporation can only continue to dream about its goal, transportation experts said.
“I think the biggest problem is the stagnant domestic economy over the last two years in Korea,” said Shin Kwang-soon, president of Korea Railroad Corp.
Passengers have complained about KTX lines in the southern provinces. The trains run at 300 kilometers per hour (186 mph) from Seoul to Daegu, but from Daegu to Busan, the KTX slows down to 150 kilometers per hour because its trains still use the old railbeds.
When the new railway is completed, corporation officials explained, the ride of 2 hours and 40 minutes from Seoul to Busan will be shortened to 1 hour and 50 minutes.
Korea Railroad Corp. is expected to finish the Daegu-Busan KTX line by 2008, but it has been delayed due to protesters who oppose building a tunnel through Mount Cheonseong, a habitat of a rare salamander.
According to a recent survey, however, passengers said the transportation to KTX stations was not convenient. Nearly 40 percent of 950 respondents said they took a taxi because there aren’t enough buses.
Others complain that half of the train seats, which face backward due to space problems, make them feel sick as the train moves.
by Special Reporting Team