KTX: South Korea’s high-speed network goes from strength to strength
KTX – South Korea’s high-speed train service – has doubled its number of daily passengers since launching 13 years ago. Here, Juhyung Lee, Senior Advisor at the UIC and Secondee from Korail (the Korea Railroad Corporation), explores the different operational elements of the high-speed service and how its continued development will play a crucial role in the future of South Korea’s economy.
In 1899 the first train journey in South Korea travelled from Seoul to Incheon and reached speeds of only 20km/h. This milestone paved way for many regional railway lines to be built throughout the country, which contributed remarkably to Korea’s economic growth. Now, the Korea Railroad Corporation (Korail) is dedicated to being a trustworthy organisation for Korean citizens and is a major player in leading the modernisation and industrialisation of Korea.
In 2004 the first Korean High Speed Train (KTX) was launched and travelled the 412km-long route from Seoul to Busan (the second largest city in South Korea). At the time this was the world’s fifth high-speed rail service and it enabled Korail to connect cities across the country within just a few hours of each other. KTX changed Korean citizens’ ability to travel and boosted the local economy.
In operation now for 13 years, the high-speed line has been extended to 596km in length. The overall length of South Korea’s railway network is 3,917km. At the time the high-speed line opened, the average number of passengers was 72,000 per day, but this has now doubled to approximately 162,000.