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Last Updated: Thursday, 1 April, 2004, 11:48 GMT 12:48 UK
S Korea launches high speed train
KTX  high speed train
The train reaches average speeds of 300 kph
South Korea's version of the high-speed bullet train has made its first commercial journey, linking Seoul with the southern port Busan.

The French-designed Korean Train Express (KTX) completed the journey in just two hours and 40 minutes - it previously took at least four hours.

The project was developed over 12 years and cost $15.3bn.

Officials hope that the new service will help to alleviate congestion on South Korea's crowded roads.

"I'm moved that I successfully completed the first journey on this historic first day," said Yang Se-woo, driver of the inaugural service, which left Busan at 0505 local time and arrived in Seoul at 0745.

With an average speed of 300kph (186mph), the KTX is expected to carry 180,000 passengers a day, allowing the Korean National Railway to cut back on slower services and boost freight transport.

The response from passengers was encouraging.

"When the KTX train pulled out Busan with a whistle, I got the feeling that South Korea's slowing economy will pick up speed like the high-speed train," said Kim Il-man, a company worker from Busan.

At an opening ceremony earlier in the week, acting South Korean President Goh Kun said the KTX would be the "starting point for the Iron Silk road", with planned links to the inter-Korean railway, the Trans-Siberian railway and the Trans-China railway.

With the launch of the KTX, South Korea became the fifth country with a high-speed railway after Japan, France, Germany and Spain.


SEE ALSO:
Japan train beats speed record
02 Dec 03  |  Asia-Pacific
Railway reconnects two Koreas
14 Jun 03  |  Asia-Pacific


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