Korail sends faulty KTX train back to maker

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Korail sends faulty KTX train back to maker

State-run railroad operator Korail ordered the first recall of a high-speed KTX-Sancheon train, which was involved in a series of accidents recently, including one derailment, to its manufacturer Hyundai Rotem.

According to Korail and the Korean Railroad Workers’ Union yesterday, inspectors found a defect on the mechanism that holds a motor decelerator on the train during a regular morning inspection on May 7. The KTX-Sancheon model was adopted in March 2010.

The mechanism, which is on the locomotive’s undercarriage, should securely hold a 0.5-ton motor decelerator. But cracks in two areas of the mechanism were discovered and inspectors said the decelerator was about to fall out, Korail said.

“If a motor decelerator falls out from the holder while the train is running at a speed of 300 kilometers per hour [186 miles per hour], it could lead to a full-scale accident,” said an official from the Korean Railroad Workers’ Union, adding that “the union is investigating the cause [of the defect].”

Korail said it immediately inspected all 19 KTX-Sancheon trains and confirmed that there were no problems with the others.

Other trains, excluding the faulty train, commenced service straight after.

The faulty train, KTX-Sancheon No. 2, was taken out of operation and sent to Hyundai Rotem for a complete checkup, according to Korail.

Media reports said Korail demanded that Hyundai Rotem improve the quality of its KTX-Sancheon trains and even requested an official apology from the company.

Hyundai Rotem boasts that it used only domestic technology to produce the KTX-Sancheon, the latest KTX model, the fourth country in the world to do so following Japan, France and Germany. But doubts about its safety have been raised following a total of 41 mishaps in its first year of operation, ranging from malfunctions to one derailment in February.

Hyundai Rotem responded by saying that “among 19 KTX-Sancheon trains, only one train was defective. Therefore the design of the Sancheon model itself is not a problem.”

The safety issue could hamper the Korean government’s multibillion dollar plan to export the trains to Brazil, the United States and other countries.

By Yim Seung-hye [sharon@joongang.co.kr]

한글 관련 기사 [중앙일보]
KTX-산천 리콜 요청
코레일, 현대로템 상대로

코레일이 국산 열차 ‘KTX-산천’ 제작사인 현대로템 측에 리콜을 요청했다. 최근 사고가 잇따라 코레일에 대한 비난 여론이 높자 KTX-산천의 제작사 측에 책임을 묻겠다는 것이다. 2009년 국산 기술로 개발한 KTX-산천은 지난해 3월부터 경부선과 호남선에 투입된 뒤 올해 2월 광명역 탈선사고를 비롯해 그동안 41건의 사고를 일으켰다. 코레일 관계자는 11일 “KTX-산천의 2호차에서 중대한 결함이 발견돼 현대로템에 정밀 재점검을 해달라고 요청했다”며 “다만 KTX-산천이 해외 수출을 앞두고 있어 비공개로 진행 중”이라고 말했다. 코레일이 이번에 리콜을 요청한 것은 7일 새벽 경기도 고양 차량기지에서 운행을 앞둔 KTX-산천 2호차를 사전 검수하던 중 모터감속기 고정대의 균열을 확인했기 때문이다.

모터감속기는 고속열차의 엔진이라 할 수 있는 모터블록의 동력을 차량에 전달하는 장치로 무게만 0.5t에 달한다. 시속 300㎞의 고속 주행 상황에서 차량 밑에 달린 모터감속기가 선로로 떨어질 경우 열차 탈선 등 대형 사고로 이어질 수 있다는 게 코레일의 판단이다. KTX-산천은 현재 경부선과 호남선 등에 19편성(편성당 10량)이 운행 중이다. 코레일은 나머지 18편성도 모두 검사했으나 특별한 이상은 없었다고 밝혔다.
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