[EDITORIALS]Poor start for the bullet trainThe bullet train, which has been hailed as a pinnacle of railroad engineering, began operation on April 1. Nevertheless, from the beginning it has been riddled with problems, and its much anticipated arrival seems very shaky right now.
Train cars are having persistent problems, while ticketing glitches have also resulted, with passengers standing in the cars although they clearly purchased a seat. Technically, there are many issues to resolve.
So far, officials of the Korean National Railroad have blamed the malfunctioning of the electric power supply system. Problems with the power supply system were noted during the experimental stage of the train system and should have been properly addressed before the train’s inauguration. Nevertheless, the persistence of these problems indicates that, instead of really fixing the root causes, railroad officials took only temporary measures, which leaves one wondering whether they were merely eager to meet the official opening date of the train system.
The fact that some passengers had to stand is unacceptable. Railroad officials explained that two cars are operated without a reservation system. If the demand for such seats exceeds the seating capacity, some passengers have to stand. If elderly people must stand on a fast-moving train, who is going to guarantee their safety? The fact that a bird’s nest was the cause of an electrical failure at the Cheonan-Asan Station points to slack management.
Furthermore, the seating arrangement that forces half the passengers riding in the coach class to sit facing backward is a problem as well. The railroad explains that such a seating arrangement is not unusual in other countries. Nevertheless, there have been many passenger complaints of dizziness and nausea.
The railroad offered to give about a 5 percent discount on those seats, but this does not solve the fundamental problem. Even if it requires a cut in the number of seats, the train has to be modified so that customers feel comfortable. The lack of facilities for disabled people also needs to be addressed.
Safety is the most important feature of the bullet train. Officials must address the fundamental problems and make sure that management and the train’s operation are kept at an optimal level.