THE KTX-Cheongryong high-speed train entered service with Korail on May 1. It operates twice a day on the Gyeongbu and Honam high-speed lines during the week, with four services a day on the Gyeongbu line at weekends.

With a higher maximum speed and superior acceleration when compared with Korail’s existing high-speed fleet, the KTX-Cheongryong will enable the journey time on limited-stop Seoul - Busan services to be cut to 2h 17min, and the Yongsan - Gwangju Songjeong journey time to 1h 36min.

Two KTX-Cheongryong trains are currently in service, with a further 17 due to be introduced by 2027.

The new trains are currently operating at up to 300km/h. They will be able to attain their maximum speed of 320km/h once work is completed to provide four tracks between Pyeongtaek and Osong, due by 2028.

The new high-speed train has been built by Hyundai Rotem and features entirely domestic technology. It has distributed traction equipment rather than the power cars of Korail’s KTX and KTX-Sancheon high-speed trains, with equipment installed in six of the KTX-Cheongryong’s eight cars.

The KTX-Cheongryong can accelerate to 300km/h in 3min 32 sec, compared with 5min 16 sec for the KTX-Sancheon. Korail says that the new train’s superior acceleration and braking performance is particularly suited to the Korean network with its shorter distances between stations.

The new trains are built of aluminium rather than steel, reducing weight and cutting the axleload from 17 tonnes to 15 tonnes, which has benefits for track maintenance.

Korail sees the new design as “a stepping stone to entering the global high-speed railway market,” where distributed traction is now dominant.

The KTX-Cheongryong is 199.1m long, formed of seven standard class cars and one superior class car with 46 seats. Total seating capacity is 515 per train, 35% higher than KTX-Eum or KTX-Sancheon trains and 26% higher than the KTX-Sancheon II.

Two KTX-Cheongryong trains can operate in multiple to provide the highest capacity on a single high-speed service in Korea.

Korail says that the new train will provide passengers with “a more expansive feeling of space,” being 3150mm wide compared with 2970mm on the KTX-Sancheon. The distance between the passenger’s knees and the seat in front is 126mm compared with 106mm, providing more legroom.

Each seat is aligned with a window, and passenger amenities include 220V sockets, wireless chargers and USB ports. Boarding steps are adjustable to match the height of both high and low platforms.

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