중앙데일리

Railbed section collapses, halts trains in Seoul

June 05,2007
Workers scramble yesterday to repair the collapsed stretch of the railbed at Gajwa Station in northwestern Seoul. Due to the collapse on Sunday afternoon, commuter trains could not properly run yesterday morning between central Seoul and Munsan, north of Seoul. By Kang Jung-hyun
Commuters from Seoul and other metropolitan areas had a hard time going to work yesterday morning as train service on the Gyeongui line shuttling between Seoul and Munsan in Gyeonggi Province was suspended following the previous day’s collapse of a section of railbed, police said.
On Sunday afternoon, two sections of track near Gajwa Station in Seoul, midway along the line, caved in, falling 50 meters to the ground and cutting all rail traffic between Seoul Station and Susaek Station.
Those who ride the train from Munsan as well as Paju and Ilsan, both in Gyeonggi, were hit the hardest. It took many of them longer than usual to get to work as people scrambled to use alternative transportation.
The Monday rush hour on major roads leading to and from Seoul became worse as more people took their cars.
According to the Seoul Metropolitan Police Agency, more than 120 percent of the usual number of cars filled the roads, slowing average speeds to 20 kilometers per hour.
Police said the accident happened after retaining walls on a subway construction site next to the railway collapsed, spilling sand under the railway into the construction site and collapsing the track bed.
It could have been worse.
A train carrying around 150 passengers passed the accident spot seven minutes before it collapsed, even after the Korea Railroad Corp., the state-run operator of the railway, was informed that signs of a railway collapse were appearing just 17 minutes before the accident.
Ssangyong Engineering and Construction, which was in charge of the project next to the railway, said it detected an impending collapse at 4:30 p.m., 44 minutes before the accident, and withdrew all of its workers from the construction site, according to police.
Police said the company informed the Korea Railroad Corp. at 4:57 p.m.
But the railway operator allowed trains to keep running, merely slowing their speed to 20 kilometers per hour, police said.
Of four trains passing the accident spot after that, two were carrying around 150 passengers each. One bound for Munsan passed at 5:02 p.m. and one bound for Seoul passed at 5:07 p.m.


By Ko Dae-hoon JoongAng Ilbo/Moon Gwng-lip Staff Writer [enational@joongang.co.kr]


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