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New KTX to Gangwon to use Rotem cars

Dec 21,2017
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Exterior, above, and interior of a new KTX train developed by Hyundai Rotem. [HYUNDAI ROTEM]
With the PyeongChang Olympic Games less than two months away, Korean train-maker Hyundai Rotem has unveiled its new express train cars, which will be used to connect Seoul and Olympic venues in only an hour and 40 minutes, the company said Wednesday.

By bus, it takes roughly two hours and 40 minutes from Seoul to Gangneung, a part of Gangwon where the Olympic stadium farthest from Seoul is located.

The new Korea Train Express (KTX) will make its first official run Friday, after a launch ceremony by the Korea Railroad Corporation today, Hyundai said. The launch comes after a year of test service. Hyundai initially won orders for the KTX in 2014.

“As the new KTX is a crucial means of transport for the PyeongChang Olympic Games, we have made special efforts to ensure the quality of the train from the early stage of production,” a spokesperson from Hyundai Rotem said.

As the temperature in Gangwon could fall to as low as minus 35 degrees Celsius (minus 31 Fahrenheit), the company tested the train in minus 40 degrees Celsius conditions.

The train employs a lithium-polymer battery, which can withstand cold weather without electric discharging, the company said. The battery is also known to be more environmentally friendly than nickel-cadmium batteries, which uses heavy metal like lead and cadmium.

Hyundai also installed a ramp for passengers using wheelchairs. The company said it is the first such ramp on a KTX train.

For effective train maintenance even after operations begin, the company decided to set up a customer service center in its Gangneung office. During the actual Olympic period, a task force consisting of researchers and staff from Hyundai Rotem’s research center, a quality management team and a customer service team will be established to oversee operations.

The KTX, until now, was only able to go as far as West Wonju Station in Gangwon, which is 102.4 kilometers (63 miles) from Seoul by rail. The railroad connecting Wonju and Gangneung, about 120.7 kilometers in distance, was newly built in time for the launch of a new KTX service.

The new KTX will take customers to three new stations - Pyeongchang, Jinbu and Gangneung - as Olympic venues are scattered around these three stations in Gangwon.

For those wanting to go straight from Incheon International Airport to Pyeongchang, the KTX fare is 34,400 won ($31.65), according to the organizing committee for the global sporting event. From Incheon to Gangneung Station, the fare is 40,100 won, while tickets from Seoul to Pyeongchang cost 22,000 won.

From the KTX station, there will be free shuttle buses to take people to game venues.


BY KIM JEE-HEE [kim.jeehee@joongang.co.kr]