The Korea Railroad Research Institute on Thursday unveiled a next-generation bullet train with a maximum speed of 430 km/h, the HEMU 430X. The HEMU on a test run covered a 28.2 km distance at a speed of 150 km/h from a station in Changwon, South Gyeongsang Province.
The train was developed by the institute in collaboration with the Ministry of Land, Transport and Maritime Affairs, Hyundai Rotem and other companies since 2007 at a cost of W93.1 billion (US$1=W1,164). Last October, a test run reached a speed of 428.9 km/h.
HEMU stands for Highspeed Electric Multiple Unit, but the acronym also means "auspicious sea fog" in Korean.
It will be the fourth fastest high-speed train in the world, after France (575 km/h), China (486 km/h) and Japan (443 km/h). It can travel from Seoul to Busan in 90 minutes. The global competition had been sluggish since Germany broke the 400 km/h mark in 1988 and Japan in 1996, but it was reignited when a French train exceeded 500 km/h in 2007. China unveiled a bullet train that manages 486 km/h in December 2010 and developed a prototype reaching a maximum speed of 500 km/h a year later.
"We will keep working on increasing the speed and make it possible for a production model to operate at speeds of up to 430km/h around this fall," said Hong Soon-man of the institute. A researcher there said it will be possible to reach a maximum speed of 500 km/h within three years. "The high-speed train market will increase to over W450 trillion," said Dr. Mok Jin-yong at the institute. "Since speed represents the level of technological advancement, we cannot afford to lag behind in the competition."