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S. Korea eyes express train project linking Eurasia

All Headlines 15:00 January 13, 2015

SEOUL, Jan. 13 (Yonhap) -- South Korea is seeking to operate a special express train this year that would pass major cities in Eurasia nations as part of efforts to advance President Park Geun-hye's vision for a united Eurasia, officials said Tuesday.

In October 2013, Park unveiled her Eurasia initiative that calls for, among other things, infrastructure development and freer trade among Eurasian nations by linking their railways. South Korea hopes to eventually link its rail network to Russia's Trans-Siberian Railway (TSR) via North Korea.

The foreign ministry said it signed a deal with state rail operator Korea Railroad Corp. to form a task force in January to set details of the train project, including timing, route and participants.

The envisioned express train is likely to pass through countries including China, Mongolia, Russia and Germany, with the route expected to span more than 10,000 kilometers and tap the existing Trans-Siberian and Trans-China Railways, it said.

"The government is pushing to run the express train in summer on a journey that would take two or three weeks," a ministry official said.

The ministry said it plans to hold a variety of events to mark historic and diplomatic milestones through the project.

This year marks the 70th anniversary of Korea's liberation from Japan's 1910-45 colonial rule. The year also marks the 25th anniversary of the establishment of Seoul's diplomatic ties with Russia and Mongolia.

In 2002, Seoul and Russia operated a similar express train that departed from Russia's Far East city of Vladivostok to reach St. Petersburg.

Seoul's foreign ministry said that this year's train project is expected to help realize President Park's proposal for a "Silk Road Express," a key element in her Eurasia Initiative.

There have long been talks of relinking South Korea's railways to Russia's TSR via North Korea, but little headway has been made in efforts to materialize the project due mainly to tensions with North Korea.


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