Rail symbolises the improving relations between Koreans
Dec 11: The first regular rail service since the end of the 1950-53 Korean War started between South and North Korea on Tuesday
The 12-car South Korean Cargo train carrying construction materials will cross through the heavily fortified demilitarised zone dividing the peninsula to the North Korean border city of Kaesong. The train started from the city of Munsan in South Korea which is 16.5km away from the North Korean border for the Panum station located in the joint North-Korea industrial zone.
It will cover 25km (16miles) to Bongdong in the North and return the same day.
The train service has been started on a daily basis from both sides and will return on the same day and will be resulted in slashing the cost of transporting goods.
Several South Korean firms have bases in Kaesong, where they have access to cheaper labour.
Until now the transportation works have been carried out by trucks.
The service is one of the tangible results of the October summit of the two Korean leaders – President Roh Moo Hyun of South Korea and Kim Jong II, leader of North Korea.
Although it is unclear whether the regular passenger train will start anytime soon, but Lee Chul, president of Korea Railroad is hopeful about the launch of regular passenger train. “Though we start with a cargo train, it will lead to a passenger train and will soon be linked to the continental trains,” he said.
Seoul is seeking wider rail links with North Korea that would allow connections to China, Russia and beyond, but Pyongyang has so far not shown interest in the proposal.
Rail connections between the two sides got strained during the 1950-53 Korean War. But no peace deal was signed means that North and South Korea remained technically at war.
But the relations between them have improved gradually and Seoul has pursued a policy of economic engagement with Pyongyang to ease the tension between them.
So far two summits have been held between the two countries and both are resulted in the fruitful outcomes. Roads were reconnected after the first summit in 2000 and rail services have been started a month after the second summit in October this year.
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