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A critical neglect of safety

Aug 03,2017
Korea Railroad Corporation, or Korail, is a public operator of train networks across Korea. The 27,000-strong staff must double-check every nut and bolt of a train as they are responsible for the safety of the passengers they carry every day.

But they cannot be relied upon. Passengers are often fearful of their safety as trains often randomly stop. They now have to watch their heads upon hearing the news that seven were injured from a piece of metal that crashed into the cabin of a running train on Sunday.

As a Mugunghwa train bound for Yeosu was passing through Yeondeungpo Station in Seoul and heading to Suwon Station in Gyeonggi, a piece of metal suddenly flew into a train car. Seven passengers were injured by the broken glass. The metal weighed about 10 kilograms (22 pounds) and fortunately did not hit anyone.

Korail first insisted it was not part of the train and later admitted that it was a lower part of a connector linking two cabins.

A few days earlier, a bullet train heading for the Incheon International Airport stopped for the third time in a span of just one month. A KTX special cabin was illegally renovated to accommodate standard cabin passengers. One train was caught running on a faulty circuit breaker. The company also came under fire for using wooden railroad ties that contain cancer-causing toxic agents to make elevators and stairs in stations. The company has been habitually neglecting safety regulations for profit.

The government is mulling a plan to merge privately-run Supreme Railways and Korea Rail Network Authority under such an impotent company. The SRT, which connects Suseo, Gyeonggi, to the southern coast has become popular since its launch last year for quality services and lower fares. The railway authority has been separately managing railroads across the country for 13 years for effective operation of the railways and trains, but Korail hardly appears to be able to manage the bigger role. It needs to shape up first.

JoongAng Ilbo, Aug. 2, Page 30