SEOUL: A train carrying South Korean engineers and officials crossed into the North to begin a landmark joint survey to reconnect railway tracks between the two Koreas.
Linking up the railway systems was one of the agreements made earlier this year in a key meeting between North Korean leader Kim Jong-un and the South’s President Moon Jae-in.
It marked the first time in a decade that a train from the South entered North Korea.
TV footage yesterday showed a red, white and blue train – displaying a banner reading “Iron Horse is now running toward the era of peace and prosperity” – pull away from the South’s Dorasan station, the nearest terminal from the western part of the inter-Korean border.
“This signals the start of co-prosperity of the North and the South by reconnecting railways,” Transport Minister Kim Hyun-mee said.
She added that the railway reconnection would help expand the country’s “economic territory” to Eurasia by land, as the division of the Korean peninsula has left South Korea geopolitically cut off from the continent for many decades.
The six-carriage train is transporting 28 South Koreans, including railway engineers and other personnel, and carrying 55 tonnes of fuel and an electricity generator.
There is a passenger coach, a sleeping coach, an office coach and a wagon loaded with water for showers and laundry.
When it arrives at Panmun Station – the first North Korean terminal across the border – the six carriages will be linked up to a North Korean train, and the South Korean locomotive will return home.
The South Koreans and their counterparts will live in the train, inspecting two railway lines for a total of 18 days – one linking the North’s southernmost Kaesong City to Sinuiju City near the Chinese border, and the other connecting Mount Kumgang near the inter-Korean border to Tumen River bordering Russia in the east.
They will travel some 2,600km on railway tracks together, the transport ministry said. — AFP