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Bechtel’s Impact Report

Korea High Speed Rail

Hig Speed Rail Train

Reducing travel times in South Korea by as much as 150 percent

The $16B Korea High-Speed Rail (KHSR) project was the largest single project in South Korea at the time of construction. The line runs between Seoul, in the north west, and Busan, a major port city, in the south east. The corridor between these cities is the most densely populated in the Republic of Korea, home to 70 percent of the nation’s population. It carries 65 percent of its passenger traffic and 70 percent of its freight traffic. High-speed services were launched in April 2004.

In the initial stages of the project, Bechtel helped the Korea High Speed Rail Construction Authority evaluate capital and operational aspects of the three major high-speed rail transportation technologies from Germany, France, and Japan. Bechtel reviewed and modified the requests for proposals and prepared the evaluation criteria for bids for rolling stock, catenary, and automatic train control.

Bechtel then provided project management services, working with the Korea High Speed Rail Construction Authority as part of an integrated project management organization. Bechtel’s work included design management, railway operations, quality control, safety, and cost and schedule management.

The journey time of around five hours along Korea’s most densely populated corridor has been reduced to little more than two hours by the 186-mph ‘KTX’ high speed trains. The Korean high-speed line made full use of the existing rail network to penetrate urban areas, and serve rebuilt stations in Seoul, Daejeon, and Busan. Existing right-of-way was utilized to deliver benefits earlier and to extend the reach of the network.

High-speed travel

The line was built utilizing French high-speed technology, with an initial fleet of 46 TGV-type trains, each formed of 18 articulated passenger cars and two power cars, equipped with TVM 430 in-cab signaling and seating 935 passengers. The Korean high-speed network continues to grow. Since 2014, KTX trains have served Seoul Incheon International Airport, running via the 58km airport railway completed in 2010 with project management services delivered by Bechtel and technical support to the railway systems supplier provided by Systra.

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Fast facts

  • 255 miles (412 km) of high-speed rail line. The route is completely grade-separated and is one third in tunnels, with half the remainder on viaduct
  • Six stations were constructed—at Gwangmyeong, Cheonan, Daejeon, Daegu, Gyeongju, and Busan. The existing Seoul Station of the Korean National Railroad was expanded for the KHSR service
  • Trains are 1300 ft (400 m) long and carry nearly 1000 passengers
  • Trains operate at speeds of 186 miles (300 km) an hour
  • 46 high-speed trains formed the original fleet