ACCORDING Mr Huh Joon-Young, president and CEO of Korail, train CO2 emissions in Korea are one sixth those of automobiles and one eighth of lorries. Huh is capitalising on rail's advantage over other modes by promoting it as an eco-friendly mode of transport in his so-called Glory campaign.

"After the Kyoto Protocol was adopted in 1997, the consensus on low-carbon green growth has widened around the world, and rail is drawing attention as an environmentally-friendly mode of transport for the future," says Huh. "In Korea, a consensus of the necessity to travel by train and people's trust in the railway has increased since President Lee Myung-bak started to promote his green growth agenda."

Korail is now playing a leading role in a five-year government plan for green growth and has, through the Glory campaign, set a goal to increase rail's share of passenger transport by 20.4% and in logistics by 15% by 2012. "Taking a train is an important choice that all people can make to protect our green environment," says Huh.

The goals of the Glory campaign are twofold: to create a railway renaissance by promoting the use of rail transport, and to expedite the development of the country's railway industry. The Glory campaign is in line with Korea's ambitious 2020 high-speed rail construction plan, which will add another 1376.8km to the network expanding it to 4934.1km. The Korean government will invest about $US 80bn in high-speed rail construction which will create 3.5 million new jobs by 2020. When the projects are completed, it will be possible to travel between Korea's main cities within 90 minutes thereby providing the whole country with a railway-centred transport system.

In addition, to boost Korea's green credentials, the proportion of the network which is electrified will increase from the current 60.4% to 85%, while to facilitate growth the amount of double track will grow from 49.6% currently to 79.1%.

At the same time, Korea is accelerating plans to achieve balanced regional development and to make rail transport the key growth engine by forming local, specialised economic zones centred on railway stations.
But the Glory campaign is not just about investment. For example, Korail now allows bicycles on metro trains to enable commuters to leave their cars at home. It has introduced a green carbon calculator, which can be used to work out amount of carbon used compared with travelling by car, and Korail has implemented a green mileage programme, which offers incentives to companies to increase their use of rail transport.

Korail has reached an agreement with regional governments to operate a campaign called "train for living woods" as well as a number of environmental protection campaigns such as "let's plant trees for our hometown railway stations." In addition, it is spearheading a country-wide campaign to promote railfreight by establishing regional action groups in collaboration with logistics companies, transport firms, and opinion leaders.

Furthermore, Korail has developed what it describes as "an effective and efficient support system for sustainable and company-wide Glory activities and a national green life campaign." The support system consists of a central headquarters, 13 steering committees, and about 100 local departments spread across the country. As of July, 1669 organisations, ranging from the media, schools and colleges, companies, and other public and social organisations, had joined the Glory campaign, which now has 235,628 members.

To sum up, Glory aims to recreate the heyday of rail travel in the 1960s before the onslaught from road and air robbed rail of its dominant position. Huh sees it as a creative campaign to promote the culture of rail transport, as well as a master plan to make Korail sustainable.

"Today, rail is the only green mode of transport and it is the core infrastructure to support the sustainable growth of each country," says Huh. "In our bid to become a world leader in a new golden age of railways, Korail is placing a premium on sustainability management by winning the trust of its customers and stakeholders. As a global transport company that is leading the way in the field of low-carbon green growth, Korail will become an acknowledged pioneer in the world's railway industry."