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South Korea unveiled a fully working prototype of its next-generation high speed
train that can reach speeds of up to 430 kilometers per hour, the government
The new train, called the Highspeed Electric Multiple Unit 400kmh eXperiment (HEMU-430X), was launched at a station in Changwon, 395 kilometers southeast of Seoul, the Ministry of Land, Transport and Maritime Affairs said.
The HEMU is the fourth fastest in the world after trains developed in France, China and Japan, it said. A bullet train made by France reached speeds of up to 575 kilometers per hour on test runs, while Chinese and Japanese machines hit 486 kilometers and 443 kilometers, respectively.
The prototype is made up of two power cars at the front and rear and four passenger coaches with multiple motor units. This technology is the latest trend in bullet trains and enables all coaches to deliver power to the tracks, which improves acceleration and deceleration performance compared to those that rely on one or two power cars to move the train forward. This arrangement can permit a larger number of rolling stocks to be operated simultaneously.
The ministry said it has injected 93.1 billion won (US$79.7 million) into the development of the train since 2007 with Korea Railroad Research Institute and Hyundai Rotem Co. engaged in the design and building of the train.
Initial estimates showed the entire trainset can reach 300 kilometers per hour in 233 seconds, an improvement of about 120 seconds compared to the country's current KTX and KTX-Sancheon trains, it said.
The ministry said advances in technology have made it possible to add 16 percent more seats on coaches with the design allowing for coaches to be added or detached easily depending on demand. Some bullet trains have semi-permanently attached carriages that affect operational flexibility.
It added that the HEMU is quieter and about 5 percent lighter than the KTX-Sancheon, which is the first locally-built bullet train and currently operates at speeds of up to 300 kilometers per hour.
The new train will be rigorously tested and driven for at least 100,000 kilometers until 2015, with actual passenger operations to begin in 2016 or 2017.
Because the trains will have an operational top speed of around 370 kilometers per hour, it could enable passengers to reach any part of South Korea in 90 minutes. As a result, the high speed trains could greatly facilitate domestic travel and promote use of public transportation.
South Korea has operated the French-built KTX bullet train, capable of reaching speeds of 300 kilometers per hour, since April 2004. In addition, South Korea developed the KTX-Sancheon that has been in service since March 2010.