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Posco will help realize new rapid transit plan

Sept 26,2009
A consortium started by Posco, Korea’s leading steelmaker, has signed a memorandum of understanding to produce eco-friendly “personal rapid transit” units for Suncheon, South Jeolla, Korea’s leading steelmaker announced yesterday.

Vectus Ltd., the Korean-Swedish consortium, will make PRT units designed to carry four to five people each over the 5 kilometers (3 miles) from Suncheon Bay to the Suncheon International Gardening Festival site, now under construction. Upon the system’s completion in 2013, 40 PRTs will run on tracks at a top speed of 60 kilometers per hour (37 miles per hour).

“The PRTs to be built in Suncheon are small and travel at short intervals, making them cheap to build and economical to run,” said Posco CEO Lee Dong-hee.

Posco described PRT as an eco-friendly public transportation system that can serve as an alternative to buses and trains. It runs entirely on electricity, which reduces noise and emissions, and is automatic, with no need for an onboard human driver.

Another advantage of using the PRTs, Posco said, would be reduced transit time for passengers, since the units move small groups, often less than five people, nonstop on fixed tracks instead of moving larger groups at only scheduled times.

The first pilot test for the PRT was held at London’s Heathrow Airport. That system is now slated to open to the general public by the first half of 2010.

The move to build PRTs is seen as an effort by Posco to expand their business portfolio to include more added-value businesses alongside their core operations. Posco has also been busy expanding its overseas penetration. This August, the company started producing steel coils at a plant in Altamira, Mexico, in that country’s biggest automobile manufacturing cluster. Next year, Posco plans to build a zinc-plated steel sheet plant in Maharashtra, India, with an annual production capacity of around 450,000 tons.


By Cho Jae-eun [jainnie@joongang.co.kr]



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