Cause of derailed KTX train investigated

By Park Ju-young
  • Published : Dec 9, 2018 - 15:37
  • Updated : Dec 9, 2018 - 17:50

A railroad switch system error likely caused the recent derailment of a KTX train, a joint team of the Transport Ministry and Korail officials said Sunday.

The tentative conclusion came after the team inspected the derailment site Saturday. According to the authorities, the Korail control center detected an error in the railroad switch system around the South Gangneung intersection at 7:30 a.m. Saturday, soon before the derailment took place.

A Seoul-bound KTX bullet train derails shortly after departing from Gangneung, Gangwon Province, with 198 passengers aboard Saturday morning. (Yonhap)

The switch system is assumed to have malfunctioned due to a drop in temperature, Korail CEO Oh Young-sik said.

The ministry and authorities said further investigation is needed to find the exact cause of the accident.

On Saturday morning, a KTX bullet train bound for Seoul derailed shortly after departing from Gangneung with 198 passengers abroad. No casualties were reported, but 15 passengers were injured in the accident.

Korail has deployed about 300 personnel along with large cranes to lift and remove the derailed locomotive and passenger cars. However, the recovery work is facing difficulties due to freezing weather.

Operations of KTX between Gangneung and Jinbu were halted over the weekend, but were likely be resumed by early Monday. Authorities operated 45 buses to transport passengers between the stations of Gangneung and Jinbu.

Korail said about 60 percent of the restoration work had been completed as of 3 p.m. Sunday.

Land Minister Kim Hyun-mee apologizes at the site of a derailment in Gangneung, Gangwon Province, Sunday. (Yonhap)

“The ministry has asked the Board of Audit and Inspection to inspect Korail on its poor maintenance and response to accidents, but such an accident happened again,” Land, Infrastructure and Transport Minister Kim Hyun-mee said during her visit to the accident site Sunday.

“There can be no excuses. (The authorities) should find out the exact cause of the accident and take actions to prevent reoccurrence,” Kim said, urging those in charge to take responsibility for the derailment.

The minister also apologized to the public over the recent KTX accidents.

In a span of the last three weeks, 10 Korail train-related accidents have taken place. On Nov. 20, 27 KTX trains were delayed or canceled due to a sudden power outage, leaving some passengers stuck in passenger cars for three hours.

A Seoul-bound KTX bullet train derails shortly after departing from Gangneung, Gangwon Province, with 198 passengers aboard Saturday morning. (Yonhap)

According to Rep. Hong Chul-ho, 661 Korail train-related incidents have occurred since 2013, including 109 involving the KTX bullet train.

Prime Minister Lee Nak-yon visited the headquarters of Korail in Daejeon on Wednesday to call for the improvement of the trains’ safety.

By Park Ju-young (

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