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KTX Seoul-Honam route to launch next month

Korea will launch a new high-speed KTX service linking Seoul and the nation’s southwestern region including Gwangju amid hopes that it will greatly contribute to boosting the local economy, officials said Wednesday.

Transport Ministry officials said the Honam KTX trains would link Seoul and Gwangju in 93 minutes, cutting more than an hour and a half from trips by express buses or slower trains.

For the faster railroad service, the government has built new tracks in the Jeolla provinces. So far, KTX trains have used existing nonhigh-speed tracks.

Korea Railroad Corp. officials said a total of 68 Honam KTX trains will be operated per day and will stop at Cheonan-Asan in South Chungcheong Province, Iksan in North Jeolla Province, Gwangju, and Yeosu in South Jeolla Province.

The new bullet train project was launched in 2009 but has experienced difficulties from unstable railroads due to the use of wrong materials during the construction process.

Ministry officials said the railroad authorities are currently undertaking test-runs and expect to complete the remaining procedures such as a joint safety inspection with local governments by the end of this month.

By Yeo Jun-suk (