Litany of problems continue to plague KTX

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Litany of problems continue to plague KTX

Public dissatisfaction with the state-run Korea Railroad Corp. (Korail) is growing after a high-speed KTX train suffered operational problems on Saturday. But Korail said such incidents are normal.

A Seoul-bound KTX train, which normally runs about 300 kilometers (186 miles) per hour, departed from Dongdaegu Station at 9:27 a.m. Saturday, but suddenly slowed down to about 150 kilometers per hour near Gimcheon (Gumi) Station in North Gyeongsang.

The train continued to travel at half speed until it arrived at Daejeon Station, where all of the roughly 600 passengers on board were ordered to transfer to an another KTX train. That train arrived at Seoul Station 26 minutes behind schedule.

Korail said a malfunction in a power output system that sends electricity to the train could have caused the problem.

A commuter train on the Gyeongchun Line, which opened last December and runs between Seoul and Chuncheon, Gangwon, failed to depart Cheongpyeong Station on its way to Seoul at around 7:20 a.m. Friday. All passengers had to wait 15 minutes at the station for the next train.

Korail has seen four KTX trains and two commuter trains suffer operational problems in February alone.

On Feb. 6, a battery malfunction was found on a Seoul-bound KTX train, right before it departed from Busan Station. All travelers were forced to transfer to another train.

On Feb. 11, a Seoul-bound KTX train derailed in the Iljin Tunnel near Gwangmyeong Station in Gyeonggi because of a loose nut in the track switching box.

On Feb. 23, all the lights went out in a commuter train heading to Paju, Gyeonggi, right before the train departed from Seoul Station. Some passengers said they heard a loud spark near an electricity line delivering power to the train, but Korail said it was still investigating the exact cause of the problem. All trains running between Seoul and Sinchon Station were halted for an hour afterwards.

On Friday, a KTX train stopped at around 6:00 a.m., en route from Busan to Seoul, right after it passed through Banwol Tunnel in Hwaseong, Gyeonggi, because of a malfunctioning heat detector, leading to a 40 minutes delay.

Experts and the Korail labor union said recent cuts in the train-maintenance workforce have contributed to the problems.

“Korail has cut the number of repairmen for tracks and trains - for more efficient management - indirectly threatening the safety of passengers,” an official for Korail’s labor union said.

According to the labor union, 2,958 repairmen were fired in 2009, including 1,203 train maintenance workers, 989 track and device supervisors and 766 electricity inspectors.

But Korail said there is no relationship between reduced workforce and the rising number of problems.

“We will review the train management system and devise countermeasures against further problems,” it said.

By Kim Hee-jin []

Related Korean Article[연합]

25일 오전 8시24분께 부산에서 서울로 향하던 KTX 106호 열차가 경기도 화성시 매송면 부근 반월터널을 지난 구간에서 멈춰서는 사고가 발생했으나 오전 9시7분께 운행을 재개했다.

열차가 멈춰선 후 운행을 재개하기까지 40여분 동안 상행선 열차 운행이 지연돼 차질이 빚어졌고 승객들은 불편을 겪었다.

사고 원인에 대해 코레일 측은 KTX 열차는 안전 운행을 위해 다양한 자동화된 안전장치로 이루어져 있는데 사고 열차의 자동화된 열감지장치 센서가 작동해 기관실에서 이를 확인한 기장이 안전조치를 위해 열차를 멈춰 세운 것이라고 밝혔다.

그러나 사고 열차의 기장 등 승무원들이 40여분간 열차 곳곳에 설치된 여러 안전장치의 이상 유무를 확인하고 나서 운행이 가능하다고 판단, 오전 9시7분께 운행을 재개했다고 코레일 측은 설명했다.

코레일 관계자는 "열감지장치는 기관실과 객실 등 열이 발생하는 곳곳에 설치돼 있는데 이 센서가 열을 감지해 작동하면 안전 확인을 위해 기장이 열차를 세우게 돼 있다"며 "기관 고장은 아니다"라고 말했다.

KTX 106호 열차는 18량의 객차를 달고 이날 오전 6시 부산역을 출발해 오전 8시39분 서울역에 도착할 예정이었다.

코레일 측은 어느 부위의 열감지장치가 왜 작동했는지와 오작동 여부까지 모든 가능성을 열어두고 정확한 경위를 조사 중이다.

2주일 전인 지난 11일에는 KTX-산천 열차가 경부고속철도 상행구간 광명역 인근에서 노후케이블 교체 공사업체의 너트 분실, 코레일 직원의 엉터리 임시조치 등 잇따른 실수가 복합적으로 작용하면서 선로전환기가 오작동, 탈선사고를 냈다.

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