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 February 12, 2004
Korea Set To Launch High-Speed Rail Services

 Korea's high-speed rail service, Korea Train eXpress (KTX), costing US$16.3 billion, is set to go into service April 1, 2004 in the Seoul to Busan corridor and between Seoul to Mokpo effectively cutting the time by more than half for each route.

Compared to Korea's current express rail service, Saemaeul, which cruises at 140 km./hr, the KTX trains can reach speeds of 300 km./hr. With the first stage completed, tourists and commuters alike can travel the 410 km. between Seoul and Busan, Korea's second largest city, in 2 hours and 40 minutes compared to an expressway drive of 6 hours.

Upon the completion of the second phase improvement project, this time will be further reduced to 1 hour 56 mins. by 2010.

The approximate cost of the KTX run between Seoul to Busan is 45,500 won, 65% the cost of an air ticket or 124% of the existing Saemaeul train service and approximately 43,000 won for the Seoul to Mokpo route.

The KTX was built using French TGV technology on both the Seoul via Daejeon to Busan and the Seoul via Daejeon to Mokpo direct routes. During the week 60 high-speed trains will depart at 15~20 minute intervals each day for Busan from Seoul, increasing on weekends and holidays. For Seoul to Mokpo, 22 trains will service this southwestern Korea route for a time of 2 hours and 49 mins.

Korea National Tourism Organization Deputy Director, Byung Hee Jung said "the new high-speed service will increase the convenience for tourists to the destination of Korea. Not only will the KTX provide easier and increased access to each region throughout Korea it means more time will be spent enjoying the sights all over the country rather than travelling to them." Providing easier access to foreigners, it will also aid commuters, shift future capacity for airlines and greatly reduce some of the holiday congestion the country experiences.