Derailing snarls train traffic in Seoul for all of Monday
A train leaving the capital for Iksan, North Jeolla derailed near Yeongdeungpo Station in western Seoul on Sunday night, injuring at least 35 passengers.
None have any life-threatening injuries, said the Korea Railroad Corporation (Korail), the state-run operator of the train.
A Korail spokesperson said Sunday that 20 people were sent to hospitals after the accident, while 15 went home.
Exactly what caused the accident is unknown. Korail said it was investigating.
The accident occurred at around 8:52 p.m. on Sunday when six cars of a Mugunghwa train carrying 275 passengers derailed as it was entering Yeongdeungpo Station.
The train had departed Yongsan Station in central Seoul at 8:45 p.m. and was supposed to arrive in Iksan Station in the southwestern province of North Jeolla at 12:26 a.m. on Monday.
Nearly 160 workers from Korail were dispatched to the scene to repair the train and clear the tracks before Monday rush hour, but they couldn’t, causing morning mayhem for commuters.
Trains couldn’t pass between Yongsan Station and Yeongdeungpo Station on subway line No. 1 for most of Monday. Operations normalized at around 5:30 p.m.
At least 228 trains were affected, including inter-city KTX bullet trains. Some trains were entirely grounded, some had to take detours while others had to cut short their original routes.
Many commuters using subway Line No. 1 and the Gyeongui-Jungang Line, which connect Seoul with neighboring Gyeonggi cities, were forced to find alternative routes to work and found themselves on packed subway trains.
Some commuters wrote on social media that the terror of the Itaewon crowd surge was coming back, when over 150 people were crushed to death on Oct. 29 as they were trying to pass a narrow alley.
Minister of Land, Infrastructure and Transport Won Hee-ryong slammed Korail on Monday, saying it was time for the company to change “everything from one to ten.”
In a statement, the ministry said Won ordered railway police and safety officers to get to figure out what had gone wrong.
Vice Minister of Transport Eo Myeong-so presided over an emergency meeting at the Korail headquarters in Daejeon on Sunday night and was briefed about the accident. In the meeting, Eo was quoted by the ministry as urging the company to focus all resources on recovery and looking out for workers’ safety.
A Korail employee was killed and another worker was injured at Obong Station in Uiwang, Gyeonggi on Saturday night while working on cargo trains.
BY LEE SUNG-EUN,KIM NAM-YOUNG [email@example.com]