|As the two Koreas agreed to open a groundbreaking ceremony for linking and modernizing railways in late November to early December, some expect that it will be the engine of economic cooperation. Construction companies and railway car makers are also raising hopes for special economic cooperation between the two Koreas. |
However, many experts say that there are too many mountains to cross and a long way to go. This is because not only the technical difficulties of connecting the two Koreas but also the related parties' understanding of the railway construction in North Korea is complicated. Moreover, the railway link is based on the assumption that the North's denuclearization and easing of sanctions will proceed smoothly, and the trend of the related negotiations is also important.
Just like South Korea, the North Korean railroad uses a standard gauge with a width of 1435 nm. This is because Japan has adopted the standard gauge during its strong season. There is no need to change lanes in connecting the two Koreas.
However, the power supply system is different. While South Korea uses 25,000V of alternating current, North Korea uses a direct current of 3,000V. Without a compatible device, the connection between the two Koreas is impossible. Of course, using diesel-powered locomotives can use existing tracks. However, most believe that the power supply system should be unified in the long run since the subway system is efficient. In particular, the North is expected to have to expand power plants and substations due to poor electricity conditions.
It is also necessary to unify signal systems. Only when the North's signal system, which is analogized, is converted to digital such as South Korea, can it prevent confusion when building high-speed railways in the long run. "There are many differences in power supply systems, design standards, signal systems, and various technical terms, so we can reduce trial and error through inter-Korean consultations." said Park Jung-joon, director of Future Innovation Strategy at the Korea Railroad Research Institute.