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Reduction of KTX service is inevitable from next Monday

Posted December. 13, 2013 06:10,   


As the rail strike is protracted, the KTX express train service is expected to be reduced from early next week. Industries such as the cement industry ask the railroad union to call off the strike, saying, “(We) have reached the limit.” Several organizations including the Korea Railway Association announced on Thursday an official statement calling for withdrawal of the strike.

○ KTX service to be reduced due to strike

According to the Land, Infrastructure and Transport Ministry and the Korea Railroad Corporation (or Korail), a senior-executive meeting of Korail will be convened on Friday to determine the reduction of KTX service from next Monday, a week after the onset of the strike on Monday. The corporation has lowered the operation of Saemaeul and Mugunghwa trains to 70 percent, but maintained the KTX and other metropolitan subway services at the normal level.

An official from Korail said, “A number of KTX engineers are participating in the strike and substitute workers are being exhausted,” adding, “Reduction of KTX service is inevitable to prevent accidents.” The ministry and the corporation plan to reduce the frequency of KTX service by five to 10, mostly during the daytime when the number of travelers is relatively small. The total number of KTX services per day is 206.

The first accident since the beginning of the strike occurred on Thursday. As a cargo train running on the Central Line between Tamri Station and Bibong Station in Uiseong City derailed, the train services through the Central Line were fully suspended for 10 hours. The ministry said, “The accident was caused by broken train wheels,” adding, "(The ministry) will investigate the possibility of careless maintenance due to the strike.”

The strike participation rate as of Thursday noon stood at 36.8 percent, slightly up from 35.9 percent on the previous day. In particular, the participation of train engineers, key personnel to train operation, is 49.1 percent, higher than other job categories.

○ Cement is running out of stock

The cement industry directly affected by the strike is suffering a major setback to the logistics.

The distribution center of Ssangyong Cement and Hanil Cement in Sangam-dong, Seoul, which used to be busy, were silent at 9 a.m. Thursday. Only about 40 trains were parked on the track, and more than half of them were empty. An official from one of the companies said, “(We) have always maintained over 4,000 tons of cement in stock, but are running out of it only in four days after the strike.” Dong-A Ilbo went up to the 30-meter-deep silo, a storage tower, and checked the inside firsthand. The silo was revealing the floor.

Affected by the decreasing stock, ready-mixed concrete manufacturers are concerned about cement shortages. One industry official said, “When the cement supply is strained, manufacturers try to raise its stock level from one-day volume to two- to three-day volume.” The operation of cargo trains dropped to 30.5 percent Thursday morning.

Under these circumstances, related organizations are also calling for the withdrawal of strike. The Korea Railway Association announced a statement and urged strike participants to go back to work for the development of rail transport. The Korea Cargo Transport Association also urged to end the strike, saying “A great logistical turbulence may occur due to prolonged strike.”