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[Newsmaker] Korail accused of overstating KTX safety

Local passengers raised their eyebrows when the state-run railway operator Korail claimed the safety and on-time operation of its trains as global No. 1 in a report submitted for evaluation in June.

At the time, Korail was suffering from public condemnation after a series of frequent breakdowns and delayed schedules of the nation’s KTX bullet trains.

Korail explained that it had cited official data from the International Union of Railways, or UIC, and then the agency was designated as one of the best state-owned companies of the year. 

The Ministry of Land, Transport and Maritime Affairs, however, recently reinvestigated the claim and found some data had been overstated “deliberately.”

According to the ministry, four derailment and 17 crossing accidents occurred in 2010. But Korail reported only eight crossing accidents to the international railway union. Another 87 injury cases were omitted altogether, the ministry said.

The on-time operation, which is claimed to be the world’s No. 1, was also based on a comparison with only five countries, the ministry found.

Citing data from the European Railway Agency, the ministry said Korea’s railway operation would stand at No. 5 in safety and 14th in casualties if compared to 27 EU countries.

Korail, however, refuted the findings strongly, saying the omitted figures had not been required by UIC for collection.

“The ministry is just trying to hurt our reputation as it is continuing to conflict with us on the privatization of KTX operation,” said a Korail official.

By Lee Ji-yoon (jylee@heraldcorp.com)
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