In Yongin, never-used train cars are headed to storage

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In Yongin, never-used train cars are headed to storage


Workers from Yongin Rapid Transit Co. load 24-ton train cars onto trailers with cranes on March 18. The company is moving them into a storage depot in Yongin, Gyeonggi. Provided by the Yongin Rapid Transit Co.

YONGIN, Gyeonggi - As a bitter court battle between the Yongin city government and the regional train operator of a 1-trillion-won ($889 million) project of a fully automated rapid transit system sees no sign of ending, expensive train cars have been moved to a storage facility to prevent them from rusting.

At the train base here, workers busily loaded 24-ton train cars on trailers by using cranes.

“The train cars were just parked here for too long, so we are now moving them to storage,” said a worker from the Yongin Rapid Transit Co., the operator of the rapid transit system.

Yongin had planned to start operating the a fully automated 18.5-kilometer (11.5 mile) rapid transit system in July, but the project had been deadlocked for months due to a court battle between Yongin Rapid Transit and the city government. After the city pointed out flaws in the transit system and refused to approve completion of construction, Yongin Rapid Transit terminated its contract with the city and took its case to an international court.

The lawsuit was filed last month in the International Court of Arbitration under the International Chamber of Commerce, a Paris-based dispute-resolution tribunal, because one of the chief investors in the project is Canada’s Bombadier Advanced Rapid Transit.

The company also fired 165 staffers last month after terminating the contract with the city government in January. In the meantime, the 19 train cars, each worth 2.35 billion won ($2.09 million), were idle outside for nine months since their pilot operation was completed last June.

The operator said the trains will be stored in an indoor facility about 15 kilometers from the base. It remains unclear when the trains will be back on the rails because the lawsuit will likely take more than a year. If either side involved in the case denies the meditation decision, the matter will be sent to a local court for a new trial.

“We were worried that the train cars will rust just sitting here idle for a long time,” said a Yongin Rapid Transit official, adding that all trains will be moved indoors by Sunday.

It appears that the trains will have to remain in storage for a while, even if a new operator is designated by the city government. The operating staff requires at least one year of training, and it won’t be easy to find a skilled workforce quickly. Most of the workers laid off last month by Yongin Rapid Transit have already found new jobs, a former worker said.

By Yu Kil-yong, Ser Myo-ja []

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