Newsletter 4/5/24: Korea’s New Train & Douglass Tunnel Program

Korea Announces Next Generation of High-Speed Trains 

On April 1, South Korea unveiled the KTX-Cheong-ryong, the next generation of high-speed trains. This state-of-the-art train is capable of reaching 320 km/h (just shy of 200 mph), making it the fastest train in the country. 

South Korean President Yoon Suk Yeol made the announcement at an event celebrating 20 years of Korea Train Express (KTX) operations. South Korea began construction on their initial high-speed line from Seoul to Busan in 1992, and service launched on April 1, 2004. 

“We will continue to improve our high-speed railway system, making it even faster and more convenient for passengers. Our goal is to expand the network nationwide, creating a two-hour living area across the country.” – President Yoon Suk Yeol

The key difference between the KTX Cheong-ryong and its predecessor, the KTX-Sancheon, is the power design. The KTX-Sancheon has power units at the front and rear cars, while the KTX Cheong-ryong has power units beneath each car. This allows for improved traction, acceleration, and deceleration. This is especially important for Korea’s high-speed rail network, which features shorter distances between stations. It also eliminates the need for locomotives, allowing for 136 more seats than the previous model.

Two of these high-speed trains will begin service in May, with an additional 31 trains to be added by 2028. 

Sign up for our webinar on South Korean High-Speed Rail on 5/3!

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Korea Launches New Bullet Train With a Top Speed of 320 km/h

KTX Cheong-Ryong to Elevate Korea’s High-Speed Rail

Korea Unveils Next-Generation Bullet Train

Amtrak Selects Delivery Partner for Frederick Douglass Tunnel Program

This week Amtrak selected a Delivery Partner for the $6 billion Frederick Douglass Tunnel Program. This contract was awarded to ADVANCE, a joint venture between AECOM and Jacobs, and established a construction management approach where the partners share in Amtrak’s risks to deliver the Program and achieve overall outcomes. 

The Frederick Douglas Tunnel project is critical to improving train service in the Northeast Corridor (NEC). Currently, the Baltimore & Potomac Tunnel is a major chokepoint for freight, Amtrak, and MARC trains traveling between Baltimore’s Penn Station and the West Baltimore MARC Station. The 150 year old B&P Tunnel is a frequent cause of delays for the 9 million Amtrak and MARC yearly riders who rely on it. The Frederick Douglass Tunnel will help relieve pressure on this route as it will be electrified, and used by Amtrak and MARC trains, where the B&P Tunnel will remain for diesel powered freight trains. 

The Frederick Douglass Tunnel Program includes two new high-capacity tunnels, 10 miles of rail improvements along the NEC, bridge replacements, and other railroad infrastructure improvements. Upon completion, speeds on this tunnel will increase from 30 mph to 110 mph, eliminating the slowest section of mainline track between Washington, D.C. and New York City.

This project is beginning to ramp up. In November Amtrak was awarded a $4.7 billion grant from the Federal-State Partnership for Intercity Passenger Rail Program for the NEC (FSP-NEC). They have already awarded two of three construction contracts, and the Delivery Partner Contract is another important step forward. 

The new Frederick Douglass Tunnel is scheduled to open in 2035. Demolition in advance of the project has begun and construction is scheduled to begin this year.

Read More

Amtrak Chooses Joint AECOM/Jacobs Venture to Oversee Frederick Douglass Tunnel Project

Frederick Douglass Tunnel Program (Amtrak)

Amtrak Selects Frederick Douglass Tunnel Delivery Partner

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Level boarding on a Metra Electric platform

High Speed Rail Alliance 2024 Spring Luncheon

When: 4/26 at Noon CT (Doors open at 11:30am)

Where: Maggiano’s 516 N. Clark St. Chicago, IL 60654

This year’s event will feature Jim Derwinski, the CEO/Executive Director of Chicago’s Metra rail system, as keynote speaker. Mr. Derwinski also serves as chairperson of the Illinois High-Speed Railway Commission.

Global Best Practices for Cutting the Cost of Building High-Speed Rail

When: 4/19 at 12pm Central Time

In this presentation, Paul Lewis with DB E.C.O. North America will discuss global best practices for changing the dynamic and enabling public agencies to build rail projects at a lower cost and on a fast timeline. 

The platform at Seoul central station is busy with people getting off the train.

South Korean High-Speed Rail: Thoughts, Challenges and Successes

When: 5/3 at 12pm Central Time

More details to be announced soon.

Trains Over Towers: Why DFW Desperately Needs the High-Speed Rail Plan

If demolishing the Reunion Tower is necessary for implementing intercity high-speed rail in Texas, then it is critical we do it to help combat congestion while improving local communities.   

Mike Rawlings: Get On Board With High-Speed Rail (Dallas News)

Former Dallas Mayor Mike Rawlings asks city leaders and residents to get on board with high-speed rail.

South Shore Line Looks to Run Shuttles from Michigan City to South Bend Airport

As work to double-track the South Shore Line between Gary’s Miller neighborhood and Michigan City’s Uptown district is wrapping up, the Chicago-Indiana commuter railroad is looking into service improvements further east.

$7.5B for Transportation and Infrastructure Projects Available from USDOT

The grants support projects “so large, complex, and ambitious that they could not get funded under the infrastructure programs that existed prior to this administration,” Secretary Buttigieg said.

Preliminary Design Plans for Mobile Amtrak Platform Revealed

Official preliminary design plans for the Mobile (AL) Amtrak station have been released. Amtrak has stated that they believe a land use agreement with the City of Mobile could be reached by April or May.

‘Hope is Not a Plan, and No Plan is a Plan For Failure’

A letter written to Amtrak Board Chair Anthony Coscia regarding the equipment shortage for long-distance trains and how Amtrak plans to deal with this problem.

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