The Organization for Cooperation of Railways (OSJD) meeting, which is often called as the “UN assembly of continent railways” is to be held from Monday to Friday at Lotte Hotel in central Seoul. It is the first official event for Korea Railroad Corp. (KORAIL) President Son Byeong-seok, who took office on March 27 and will be the chair of the meeting. “I will emphasize that the Eurasia railroads should include the two Koreas to be complete and the importance of Korea’s active role in the OSJD to draw supports of member countries on connecting railways to the South and North,” said Son in an interview with the Dong-A Ilbo at the Seoul Station on Friday.
The meeting is the first international event since South Korea joined the OSJD in June last year. The OSJD is an international organization founded to operate international railways between Europe and Asia in 1956, which has 29 countries including South Korea, North Korea, Russia and China as well as railway operation agencies as members. South Korea became an affiliated member in 2014, but was not able to join as a regular member because of the North’s opposition. South Korea finally became a regular member last year on the fourth trial when the relations between the North and South thawed.
Regular members can participate in all decision-making processes related to Eurasia railway usage and operations and do not have to sign a treaty with each country on the route. Now there is a way to connect the Trans-Siberian Railway (TSR of 9,288 kilometers) that runs to Moscow via Gyeongbu Line (Busan-Seoul), Gyeongeui Line (Seoul-Sineuiju), Najin and Vladivostok.
Cooperation of the two Koreas is essential to connect the railway. “Cooperation of the two countries on this is essential to strengthen Korea’s railway competitiveness and sovereignty over railways after unification,” said Son. “If another country leads the project to modernize North Korea’s railways, it would be against our national interest.” KORAIL plans on training sessions with North Korean railway engineers if progresses are made in the relations between the North and South.
“The railways would bring opportunities to domestic logistics industry,” said Son. “We can cut off logistics costs as it takes around 30 to 40 days from Busan to the Netherlands via ocean, but only 17 days via railways.”
Ae-Jin Ju email@example.com