Koreas, Russia to Discuss Rail Link

Korea Times
Kim Yon-se

Senior officials of South Korea, North Korea and Russia will likely meet soon to discuss linking the Trans-Korean Railway (TKR) and the Trans-Siberian Railway (TSR), the chief executive of the Korea Railroad Corp. (KORAIL) said Thursday.

The three countries plan to hold a second round of talks for railway cooperation in Pyongyang in late June, said KORAIL President Lee Churl.

In a meeting with reporters in Munsan, north of Seoul, Lee said, “We’ve already reached an agreement with Russia and received a positive reply from the North.”

If the North accepts the proposal, Lee will meet his North Korean and Russian counterparts to discuss the matter on the basis of the first tripartite meeting in Russia in March 2006.

The connection of TKR and TSR, dubbed the “Iron Silk Road,” is expected to bring enormous economic benefits to the two Koreas and Russia.

Experts say it is expected to cut logistic costs as well as freight delivery times substantially.

First of all, inter-Korean projects including tours to Mt. Geumgang or Gaeseong, an ancient capital city in North Korea, will likely be activated .

Freight transportation fares between Incheon and Nampo in the North are expected to fall by 25 percent on average by utilizing the railway instead of ships.

It takes about 30 days and costs $2,213 for conveying 1 TEU (20-foot equivalent units) of freight between Busan and Moscow by ship. In comparison, it would take about 15 days and $1,822 if the railways were linked.

The Busan New Port has recently been designed to make Korea a logistics hub in Northeast Asia.

The port is likely to provide another advantage when the railroad among the two Koreas and Russia is connected.

It will become both the starting and ending point of the “Iron Silk Road,” crossing the Eurasian continent via the Trans-Siberian, Trans-Manchurian and Trans-China railways.

The port authority plans to build a logistics complex on a 1.2 million-square-meter lot in the northern container pier of the new port by 2008.


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