Nationwide railway strikes cause travel, logistic disruptions

2023.09.15 12:43:02 | 2023.09.15 13:06:16

[Photo by Yonhap]이미지 확대

[Photo by Yonhap]



On the first day of a nationwide strike organized by the Korean Railway Workers Union (KRWU), major train stations across the country experienced a surge of frustrated travelers as trains were cancelled.

The strike is South Korea’s first major railway strike in nearly three years and ten months since a nationwide strike in November 2019.

Trains have seen a reduction in operations since September 14, with some experiencing up to a 60 percent decrease in service.

At Seoul’s Yongsan Station on Thursday, there was a long line in front of the ticket exchange and refund counters.

This has all resulted in considerable inconvenience for passengers and has also affected the logistics sector. Freight trains are currently operating at only 26.5 percent capacity, raising concerns about business disruptions, particularly for the export industry.

In preparation for the railway workers’ strike, the government formed an emergency transportation task force on September 13 and initiated emergency operations. However, the efforts fell short of fully addressing the situation. The operation rate for metropolitan subways was at 75 percent of normal levels, while the KTX operated at 68 percent capacity.

Regional trains, including the Saemaeul and Mugunghwa, ran at 58 percent and 63 percent capacity respectively. As a result of the strike, various industries in Korea, particularly those in the Busan region, experienced bottlenecks in their supply chains.

At terminals such as Busan New Port Station in Busan and Osan Station in Gyeonggi Province, which are critical for the export industry and often handle international container shipments, there was a notable decrease in freight train operations.

According to the Korea Railroad Corporation, the number of freight trains operating between the two stations on Thursday dropped from the usual 13 to fewer than 6. It was reported that the daily transportation volume at Busan New Port Station, which typically exceeds 1000 TEUs, was reduced to less than half on that day.

To mitigate the inconvenience faced by citizens during their commutes, the Seoul Metropolitan Government took steps to enhance the frequency of trains on Seoul Subway Lines 1, 3, and 4. Commencing on Thursday, an extra 18 train services were introduced, increasing the capacity to accommodate an additional 36,000 passengers. Despite these measures, commuters encountered significant delays on their homeward journeys in the evening.

By Park Dong-min and Minu Kim

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