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Collapsed Railway Bridges Confirmed as Safe by KORAIL

Posted September. 03, 2002 22:23,   


There are questions being raised over the effectiveness of safety checks of the Korean National Railroad (KORAIL) as, in the wake of typhoon Rusa, railway bridges are broken and retaining walls around railways collapsed. Previous safety examinations of KORAIL failed to find problems in those accident areas.

KORAIL said Tuesday that last December it commissioned to an outside organization a close examination over Gamcheon railway bridge between Gimcheon and Daesin in North Gyeongsang province of the Gyeongbu line, and the railway bridge was confirmed as safe in the examination.

A total of 9 railway bridges were collapsed by the 15th typhoon of the year. They include Gamcheon railway bridge, the 2nd bridge over the Osip-cheon in the section between Miro station and Dogyeong-ri station of the Youngdong line and the bridge over Yeoryang-cheon in the section between Auraji station and Gujeol-ri station of Jeongseon line.

Eight bridges in the nine ones except the 2nd bridge over Osip-cheon were rated as “class B (slightly damaged but safe)” under the criteria for the state of facilities of the Ministry of Construction and Transportation in two safety checks conducted by KORAIL last year.

The 2nd bridge over Osip-cheon was graded as “class C” in the safety checks because girders of the 2nd, 3rd, 5th, 8th and 9th bridge piers eroded and reinforcing rods were exposed.

Gamcheon railway bridge of the Gyeongbu line connecting Seoul and Busan was decided as “safe in structure and generally good” in the close examination by W engineering last December.

It was found that the bridge was rated as “class C” in 1999 and 2000 safety checks by KORAIL because of small cracks in bridge piers but upgraded as “class B” last year after reinforcing work.

An official with KORAIL explained that biannual safety checks and close examinations conducted every 2 years are only regular checks for normal operations of railways, not against natural disasters like floods this time.

Ki-Jin Lee doyoce@donga.com