THE Korea Railroad Corporation has completed electrification of a 55.1km section of the Gyeongjeon Line between Jinju and Gwangyang under a Won 168.3bn ($US 131m) project, four years after work began.

Electrification will improve journey times on the Gyeongjeon Line, which connects the South Jeolla and South Gyeongsang provinces. The rail network in this region has been severely underdeveloped for some time, with most rail investment focused on improving links to the northern cities and the capital.

Quieter electric trains can now travel between Suncheon and Bujeon, a suburb of the port city of Busan. This builds on gradual improvements that have been made to the line over the past decade, including track doubling and increasing line speeds.

KTX-Ieum high-speed trains will begin operating on the line following the completion of a double-track section in late 2024, which is expected to reduce journey times between Jinju and Gwangyang by 25 minutes, and enhance cross-regional tourism in the southern provinces.

Longer term, KTX-Ieum services will begin operating along the full Gyeongjeon Line connecting Bujeon, Masan, Jinju, Gwangyang, Suncheon, Boseong, and Gwangju by 2030.

“Following completion of the Gyeongjeon Line, we will continue to expand environmentally friendly high-speed railway services to improve convenience and contribute to national carbon reduction efforts,” says Mr Lee Yoon Sang, director of the Railway Division at the Ministry of Land, Infrastructure and Transport (Molit).