By Kim Rahn
Korail has filed a suit to demand the manufacturer of KTX-Sancheon trains pay compensation for damages caused by the bullet train’s frequent malfunctions.
The state-run rail operator said Tuesday that it decided to lodge the compensation suit against Hyundai Rotem because the train maker has not met its demands over five occassions to pay compensation.
It is the first time for Korail to lodge such a suit against the firm over train glitches since the high-speed service began in 2004.
“The frequent malfunctions of the KTX-Sancheon from the model’s flaws have greatly damaged Korail’s credibility. But setting the trust issue aside, we’ll first seek indemnity for direct damages,” a Korail spokesman said.
KTX-Sancheon trains, developed by Hyundai Rotem using domestic technology, started operations in March last year and there have been 53 malfunctions due to train glitches, according to Korail.
“In 38 among the 53 cases, operations were delayed for more than 20 minutes, and we had to pay 280 million won in compensation to passengers, causing losses. We urged Hyundai Rotem to pay indemnity for 32 cases first, about 260 million won, but the company has paid for only two, totaling 4 million won,” the official said.
Besides the direct damages, he said Korail has had to reduce its operations due to the glitches and the losses from the reductions have reached up to 1.1 billion won, with more expected.
“We filed the suit because we want people to know the malfunction was from flaws in train manufacturing and we as a train operator, need proper compensation for the losses we have sustained,” he said.
On Monday, a day before the suit, a KTX-Sancheon train stopped suddenly right after departing Cheonan-Asan Station in South Chungcheong Province at 7:58 p.m. The train bound for Masan went back to the station about 30 minutes later, and passengers had to take another train at 9 p.m. The incident delayed the operation of three other trains.
“The train was shaking from a glitch in the power system and the driver stopped the train, concluding normal operation would be impossible,” the official said.