KTX misses stop, goes backward for 2.6 km

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KTX misses stop, goes backward for 2.6 km

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The Korea Railroad Corporation, or Korail, is facing criticism again after a bullet train missed a stop and then backed up for 2.6 kilometers (1.6 miles) to return to the missed station without any explanation to passengers.

On Monday night, a Korea Train Express (KTX) train, which left Seoul Station at 7:03 p.m. bound for Busan, whizzed past Yeongdeungpo Station, one of its scheduled stops, at 7:11 p.m.

The train’s 52-year-old driver, who is surnamed Lee, received an emergency call from his supervisor and quickly halted the train a minute later, 2.6 kilometers past its stop, near Sindorim Station.

The driver slowly backed the train on the same track to return to Yeongdeungpo Station. It was a confusing 10 minutes for the 100 or so passengers, who were suddenly being driven backward.

After the KTX train picked up 108 bemused passengers at the bypassed station, the train proceeded toward Busan at 7:26 p.m., 10 minutes later than scheduled.

No announcement was broadcast to passengers on the train.

A representative from Korail apologized yesterday saying, “If the passengers were nervous because the train backtracked, it is 100 percent Korail’s fault.”

Korail said the incident was due to the driver’s “momentary lapse.” It also said the KTX only stops at Yeongdeungpo Station twice a day, which explained the driver’s mistake.

But according to the railroad company, Lee is a “veteran” driver who has been with Korail since its founding days.

The driver’s cabin in a KTX train is equipped with a GPS system which informs the driver of upcoming stops, but the driver claimed he “didn’t hear the GPS guide.”

But Korail denied there was risk to the train or passengers because the driver confirmed with the control center that it was alright to back up the train and followed all necessary safety regulations.

Koo Bon-kwan, a railroad policy maker of the Ministry of Land, Transport and Maritime Affairs, stated yesterday, “If during investigation any errors on the part of the driver or the control center are revealed, disciplinary action will be taken.”

Over the past year, Korail has faced some 50 accidents, large and small. Last month, the railroad operator came under fire when five maintenance workers were run over by an Airport Express train. Three people involved in the accident, including the train’s driver, were charged with manslaughter.


By Kim Han-byul, Lee Sang-hwa [sarahkim@joongang.co.kr]

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