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[Newsmaker] Korail CEO resigns following KTX derailment accident

Korea Railroad Corp. CEO Oh Young-sik resigned Tuesday, taking responsibility for the recent series of train accidents.

“I’ve emphasized the importance of train safety since I took the post in February, but I failed to keep my word as train accidents continued to occur,” Oh said.

Oh added that the recent KTX derailment accident was caused partly by the problems that Korail currently faces, including the massive reduction of its labor force, privatization and separation of infrastructure and operation. 


Korea Railroad Corp. CEO Oh Young-sik (Yonhap)
Korea Railroad Corp. CEO Oh Young-sik (Yonhap)


On Saturday morning, a KTX train bound for Seoul derailed shortly after departing from Gangneung with 198 passengers onboard. Fifteen passengers and a KTX employee, who was dispatched to the track on the other side to check an error signal immediately before the accident, were injured.

A total of 10 Korail train-related accidents have taken place in the last three weeks.

The exact cause of the derailment is still under investigation, but a joint team of the Transport Ministry and Korail officials have tentatively concluded that a railroad switch system error caused the accident. 


(Yonhap)
(Yonhap)


According to the authorities, the control tower spotted an error in the railroad switch system just before the accident, as an error sign had been detected on the wrong track.

The investigation team also found that the cables inside the switch system had been connected in reverse when it was first installed in September 2017, raising speculation that Korail was not aware of the problem for 15 months.

The joint probe team urged the Korea Rail Network Authority to inspect all cables of switch systems installed throughout the Gangeung line. 

Land, Infrastructure and Transport Minister Kim Hyun-mee said Monday that the ministry has requested the Board of Audit and Inspection to examine Korail’s train maintenance system and overall system. The inspection will begin in January 2019.

Meanwhile, Korail completed the restoration work on Monday and resumed normal operations of the KTX Gangneung Line.

By Park Ju-young (jupark@heraldcorp.com)
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