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Tentative inter-Korean railway plan formed

Posted August. 21, 2000 20:35,   


The government and the ruling Millennium Democratic Party (MDP) said Monday that they have discussed either setting up separate train stations, one in South Korea and one in the North, or a joint station within the demilitarized zone (DMZ) for the operation of the planned inter-Korean railway.

Some 30 ruling and core MDP members, including Chairman Suh Young-Hoon, Secretary-General Kim Ok-Doo and chief policymaker Lee Hai-Chan, announced these details when they visited the southern end point of the planned Kyongui Line and the Freedom Bridge at Imjingak in Munsan, Kyonggi Province.

The party-government agreement on the operation of the relinked railway focused on how to deal with engine cars and personnel when the train passes through and beyond the DMZ.

The tentative plan includes two means of operation. According to the plan, in the first case, the Pyongyang-bound South Korean train leaving Seoul will travel to the DMZ, where the engine car will be separated from the rest of the cars. A shuttle engine car will then take the remaining cars through the South-North joint operation area. When the shuttle engine car arrives in the Northern section, a North Korean engine car will haul the passenger and freight cars to Pyongyang. This case involves two changes of engine cars.

In the second case, the northbound train will travel through the DMZ, and the South Korean engine car will be changed to a North Korean one when it reaches the northern part of the tracks.

The ruling party and government said that they will soon decide on one of the scenarios in negotiations with the North.

Party and government officials said that both sides will launch construction on the rail line around Chusok (Thanksgiving) and work to finish the 20-km railway linking Munsan, South Korea with Pokdong, North Korea, by the end of next year.

The National Railway Administration (NRA) is expected to be responsible for the 9-km long southern section spanning Munsan and Imjin Bridge. For the 3-km Imjin Bridge to DMZ stretch, the military will be deployed to remove mines from the area and undertake ground-leveling work. The NRA will then take control of the construction of the tracks and signaling systems. The government said that it will support the military`s part of the construction with equipment borrowed from the private sector in order to complete the railway by the target date. The Imjin Steel Bridge will be restored to carry through the construction, and will be replaced with a new one once the railway is reconnected.

Meanwhile, the party and government announced plans to promote the Freedom Bridge, where 12,733 prisoners of war from both sides were exchanged in 1953, as a tourist area.