Monorail not safe to operate: Report

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Monorail not safe to operate: Report

The Incheon Transit Corporation reported an 85.3-billion-won Wolmi Eunha (Galaxy) Rail project linking Incheon Station and Wolmi Island requires a complete overhaul, requiring at least an additional 15 billion won.

The construction of the Wolmi Eunha Rail line, a 6.1-kilometer (3.7-mile) long monorail, which supports a train with a single rail, linking Incheon Station and Wolmi Island, a renowned tourist site, was completed in June 2010 after spending 85.3 billion won on construction in a consortium project with Hanshin Engineering and Construction.

But the port city has been unable to operate the monorail because of mounting doubts about the safety of the line, followed by a series of accidents that occurred during a trial run of the railway.

After a year-long inspection on the monorail line by the Korea Railroad Research Institute, the Incheon Transit Corporation reported yesterday the city cannot run the monorail under current conditions as safety flaws in almost all aspects of the rail operations have been found.

“Based on findings on the safety conditions of the line, it is thought that safe and normal operation [of the rail line] is infeasible under the current conditions,” said the research institute in a statement released yesterday.

The institute also said Hanshin’s claim in its report submitted to the corporation last year that it had fixed defects in the railway system in June last year turned out to be false.

The findings include bad connections between the vehicle and rails which could cause electric shock and cracks found on railways and wheels.

“We express our apology to the citizens over the finding on the railway,” said Lee Jong-ho, director at the technical team at the corporation during a press briefing. “We have found defects in almost all aspects in the railway operating systems.”

The transit corporation is now considering how to use the existing equipment, but it does not seem to have many options.

It is also a burden to completely remove the monorail. The city government estimates that it would need to spend an additional 25 billion won of taxpayer money to tear it down.

To use the monorail as originally intended, it is estimated another 15.7 billion won will be required for repair work.

But even if the corporation decides to proceed with repair work and make commercial use of the railway, the research institute estimated an average of 4.4 billion won in losses will incur every year.


By Kang Jin-kyu [jkkang2@joongang.co.kr]

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