Koreas discuss improving cross-border train service

Shim Sun-ah

On the first day of working-level talks in North Korea on Tuesday, the two Koreas discussed scaling back their first regular inter-Korean railway service to run in more than a half century, as the trains are often empty, South Korean officials said.

The two Koreas began the regular train service in December as a symbol of peace and rapprochement following the October summit between their leaders.

A 12-car train runs once a day on a 20-kilometer railway connecting South Korea with a North Korean train station near a joint industrial complex in Kaesong.

During the working-level military talks last week, however, Pyongyang reportedly complained that even though the train runs regularly, it carries little cargo.

South Korean officials acknowledged that over 50 South Korean businesses operating in the industrial complex believe that trucking raw materials and manufactured goods to and from the complex by road is more efficient than using a train to cross the heavily armed border.

The train is very slow and does not directly link South Korea to the industrial complex, the officials said.

On the agenda at the two-day talks in Kaesong were discussions on reducing the size of the train and transporting freight in various ways, including the current use of containers, according to the officials.

“When the two Koreas agreed on the regular train service on Dec. 11, we decided to improve the method of running the service to reflect reality after undergoing about two months of trial runs,” a Unification Ministry official said, requesting anonymity.

Also discussed at the talks were the results of the first round of on-site surveys for South Korea’s plan to repair the obsolete North Korean section of the cross-border railway, as well as plans for a second survey.

The Gyeonggui railway linking Seoul with the northwestern North Korean city of Sinuiju was severed at the outbreak of the 1950-53 Korean War.

During the Kaesong talks, South Korea was represented by a three-member delegation, led by Won In-hee, a bureau chief of the Construction and Transportation Ministry. The six-member North Korean delegation was headed by Pak Jong-song, a director of the Railway Ministry.

The meeting was originaly planned for Jan. 22-23 but postponed for a week at Pyongyang’s request.


2 Responses to “Koreas discuss improving cross-border train service”

  1. NKeconWatch says:

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