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Koreas agree to allow passengers on cross-border train service starting next year

Koreas agree to allow passengers on cross-border train service starting next year

A cargo rail service between North and South Korea will be expanded to take passengers starting next year, but only South Koreans will be allowed to cross the border by train, the Unification Ministry said Saturday.
The service, which is now limited to freight transportation between a joint venture factory park in the North Korean border city of Kaesong and Musan, just across the frontier, will also ferry workers to and from the industrial complex in 2008, the ministry said in a statement.
The ministry said the commuter train service will be only for those working at Kaesong. North Korean workers will be allowed to use the commuter train service, but only within North Korea.
South Korean workers currently travel to Kaesong by bus.
Economic officials from the two sides agreed the move at a meeting in Kaesong Thursday and Friday to discuss development of the industrial zone, the ministry said.
The meeting did not conclude when in 2008 the passenger service would start, and the two sides agreed to meet again in February discuss details.
The rail's opening was part of measures to improve the industrial complex, a key symbol of reconciliation between the two Koreas that are still technically at war because their 1950-53 Korean War ended in a cease-fire, not a peace treaty.
The opening of the train service was one of the tangible results of an October summit between North Korean leader Kim Jong Il and South Korean President Roh Moo-hyun that outlined a series of joint projects. That summit was only the second-ever such meeting between the two Koreas, following the first one in 2000.
South Korea hopes the 25-kilometer (16-mile)-long inter-Korean railway will ultimately be linked to Russia's Trans-Siberian railroad and allow an overland route connecting the peninsula to Europe _ significantly cutting delivery times for freight that now requires sea transport.
But that hope is unlikely to become reality any time soon as the North's rail lines are dilapidated and the reclusive totalitarian regime will likely balk at having South Korean trains running deep into the country.


Updated : 2021-03-09 12:20 GMT+08:00