Headquarters of Korea Railroad Corporation
|Founded||1 September 1963 as Korean National Railroad|
1 January 2005 renamed as Korail
|Headquarters||Soje-dong, Dong-gu, Daejeon, South Korea|
|? 103,400,000,000 2015|
|? 380,759,519 2010|
|Freight||10,553,675,728 ton km|
|Total||3,558.9 kilometers (2,211.4 mi)|
|Double track||1,865.3 kilometers (1,159.0 mi)|
|Electrified||2,356.7 kilometers (1,464.4 mi)|
|High-speed||368.5 kilometers (229.0 mi)|
|AC 25,000 V 60 Hz||2,337.5 kilometers (1,452.5 mi)|
|DC 1,500 V||19.2 kilometers (11.9 mi)|
|Highest elevation||855 meters (2,805 ft)|
|Korea Railroad Corporation|
|Revised Romanization||Hanguk cheoldo gongsa|
|McCune-Reischauer||Han'guk ch'?lto kongsa|
|Korean Railroad (KORAIL)|
|Revised Romanization||Hanguk cheoldo|
Korea Railroad Corporation (Korean: , Hanja: ), branded as KORAIL (, officially changed to ?, ? in November 2019), is the national railway operator in South Korea. Currently, KORAIL is a public corporation, managed by Ministry of Land, Infrastructure and Transportation.
KORAIL operates intercity/regional, commuter/metro and freight trains throughout South Korea, and has its headquarters in Daejeon.
Historically, the South Korean railway network was managed by the Railroad Administration Bureau of the Ministry of Transportation before 1963. On 1 September 1963, the bureau became an agency that was known as Korean National Railroad (KNR) in English. In the early 2000's, split and public corporatization of KNR was decided by the South Korean government, and in 2003, KNR adopted the current KORAIL logo in blue to prepare corporatization. On 1 January 2005, KNR was split into Korea Railroad Corporation (KORAIL), which succeeded railway operation with the KORAIL logo and name, and Korea Rail Network Authority (KR), which succeeded maintaining tracks.
Excluding the other high-speed service provider, SR, South Korean high-speed and intercity services are provided by KORAIL. Currently, KORAIL provides 5 classes of railway and metro services.
KTX (Korea Train eXpress) is currently the highest class of KORAIL services. KTX services are provided on the Gyeongbu HSR and Honam HSR, as well as their branches such as Gyeongjeon Line, Donghae Line, or Jeolla Line.
Before the introduction of ITX services, intercity trains are named as Saemaul-ho (?), which borrowed its name from New Community Movement. Later, Saemaul-ho services are merged into ITX as ITX-Saemaul (ITX-). Currently, remaining Saemaul-ho services are only operated on Janghang Line.
Mugunghwa-ho (?) and its planned successor Nuriro () services are regional train services of KORAIL. Mugunghwa-ho, inspired its name from national floral emblem hibiscus, was introduced as express service at first, but after the introduction of KTX, it was degraded into regional services.
Currently, Nuriro services are provided by only EMU trains (class 20). KORAIL has a plan of introducing Nuriro with newly ordered EMU-150.
Named as EMU services (?), metro services are provided in the Seoul Metropolitan Area and the Busan Metropolitan Area. Sometimes it is considered as a successor of Bidulgi-ho (?). Officially, fare systems of metro services are separate from other services operated by Korail; such services use their respective subway fare systems, allowing free transfers between Korail-operated metro lines and other metro lines.
Korail offers a rail pass called Korea Rail Pass, or KR Pass for short, to foreign travelers, such that they can take most of the trains operated by Korail freely, including KTX. However, subways and tourist trains operated by KORAIL are not covered.
Foreigners living in South Korea for more than six months are ineligible to use a KR Pass, but Korail offers the Happy Rail Pass, which is very similar to the KR Pass, for a slightly higher price.
Most of the railroad's employees are members of the Korean Railway Workers' Union, which is frequently at odds with KORAIL management. Strikes, such as the South Korean railroad strike of 2006, are not uncommon.
In December 2013, 23,000-100,000 union members and friends protested the privatization of KORAIL in Seoul.
Until the division of Korea following the end of the Second World War, the Gyeongui Line and Gyeongwon Line extended into what is now North Korea. The Gyeongui Line connected Seoul to Kaesong, Pyongyang, and Sinuiju on the Chinese border, while the Gyeongwon Line served Wonsan on the east coast. Another line--the Kumgangsan Electric Railway--connected the town of Cheorwon, now on the border of North and South Korea, on the Gyeongwon Line, to Mt. Geumgang, now in the North.
The Gyeongui Line is one of two lines whose southern and northern halves are now being reconnected, the other line being the Donghae Bukbu Line. On 17 May 2007, two test trains ran on the reconnected lines: one on the west line from Munsan to Kaesong; the second on the east from Jejin to Kumgang.
In December 2007, regular freight service started on the Gyeongui line, from South Korea into the Kaesong Industrial Park in the north. The service has been underutilized, however: as it was reported in October 2008, on 150 out of 163 return trips that had been done so far, the train carried no cargo at all. The total amount of cargo carried over this period had been merely 340 tons. This absence of interest in the service has been explained by the customers' (companies operating in Kaesong) preference for road transport. In November 2008, North Korea shut down the link. However, railroad transportation from South Korea to North Korea resumed again on November 30, 2018, when a South Korean train carrying railroad inspectors entered North Korea.
A Trans-Korean Main Line, spanning North Korea and connecting to Russian Railways, is being planned. On 30 November 2018, 30 officials from North and South Korea began an 18-day survey in both Koreas to connect the Korean railroads. The survey, which had previously been obstructed by the Korean Demilitarized Zone's (DMZ) "frontline" guard posts and landmines located at the DMZ's Arrowhead Hill, consists of a 400-kilometer (248-mile) railroad section between Kaesong and Sinuiju that cuts through the North's central region and northeastern coast. The railway survey, which involved the inspection of the Gyeongui Line, concluded on December 5, 2018. On December 8, 2018, an inter-Korean survey began in both Koreas for the Donghae Line.
On 13 December 2018, it was announced that the groundbreaking ceremony to symbolize the reconnection of the roads and railways in both Koreas will be held on 26 December 2018 in the North Korean city of Kaesong. On 17 December 2018, the latest inter-Korean railway survey, which involved an 800-kilometer rail from Kumgangsan near the inter-Korean border to the Tumen River bordering Russia in the east, was completed. A potential threat to the groundbreaking ceremony emerged after it was revealed that the North Korean railway was in poor condition. On 21 December 2018, however, the United States agreed to no longer obstruct plans by both Koreas to hold a groundbreaking ceremony. The same day, a four-day inter-Korean road survey began when ten working-level South Korean surveyors entered North Korea to work with ten North Korean surveyors on a three-day survey 100-kilometer-long section on the eastern Donghae Line. On 24 December 2018, the four-day road survey, which will assist with the groundbreaking ceremony for the railroad, was completed after a separate team of ten South Korean surveyors entered North Korea and joined ten North Korean surveyors to survey a 4-kilometer-long road in Kaesong. On 26 December 2018, the groundbreaking ceremony was held as scheduled in Kaesong. About 100 South Korean officials attended the ceremony after departing to North Korea on a Korail train based at Dorasan Station in Palu.
Japan Rail Kyushu offers a jet foil ferry service between Busan and Fukuoka taking about 3 hours. KORAIL and Japan Rail West had a joint rail pass (called ?) which included discounted KTX and Shinkansen tickets and Busan-Shimonoseki/Fukuoka ferry tickets, but the pass was discontinued due to low ridership.
There are no railway connections between both countries. The Korean Strait undersea tunnel connecting Fukuoka and Busan via Tsushima had been proposed as far back as 1917, but the plan has never progressed beyond the research phase. While the increased wealth of South Korea and continued growth of trade between the nations has made the economic case for the tunnel more compelling, promotion has focused more on using the project to reduce political tension between the nations.