Korail KTX-I

I realise that although this is a train blog, I have never written a single post on the famous high speed trains of France. Part of it is because I'm unsure if the literary skills and attention I'll be able to expend on these world famous trainsets will do them justice. So I'm thinking to get into the French Train à Grande Vitesse, which literally means High Speed Train in English, with some distractions and derivatives before talking about the actual TGV on the SNCF, Société Nationale des Chemins de fer Français, the French National Railway.

The TGV Réseau in France
I'll start by writing about an export model of the TGV to Asia, most commonly known as the Korea Train eXpress, operated by the South Korean national railway Korail.

The Korean TGV - the KTX
Although being just a stone's throw away from Japan, well, relatively speaking, high speed rail was a recent development in South Korea, where the first line went into commercial service in 2004, 40 years after neighboring Japan. At the time, no domestic rolling stock company made high speed trains in South Korea, therefore a bidding process was involved to determine whether or not the trains were to be bought from the French, the German, or the Japanese. Since this is an introductory TGV post, yes, the French have won (and when that happened, Alstom was still known as GEC-Alsthom).

Jacobs trucks between the articulated passenger cars
Contract between the pre- and post-TGV days
The KTX essentially is an lengthened TGV Réseau articulated trainset with a slightly rounded nose design similar to that of another export model TGV, the Renfe AVE S-100 in Spain. Like the first production electric TGV in France, the KTX is also an electric multiple unit (say what?). The first 3 trucks on either end (i.e. two trucks on the power cars and the leading truck on the articulated passenger coaches) are powered. Instead of having 8 passenger coaches like the TGV Réseau, the KTX has 18, making it one of the longest high speed trains in the world (because the cars are articulated, i.e., 2-axle trucks are shared between cars, they can't be as long as standalone cars due to loading. However, they can be relatively wider than long cars, making more effective use of the loading gage of the right of way).


The KTX paved the way for high speed train manufacturing in South Korea by means of technology transfer and licensing. Hyundai Rotem was also formed in 1999 as a result of a merger of the 3 major rolling stock manufacturers of Korea and took on the task of domesticating the manufacturing of KTX trainsets. Of the 46 sets of KTX-I in service, 12 were built by Alstom in France from 1997-2000 and the remaining by Rotem in South Korea in 2002 and 2003. Rotem had since then began its own development of high speed trains.

Now some numbers... Combined, the KTX-I puts out about 18,200 horsepower to the rails which enables this trainset to travel at a maximum speed of 190 mph in revenue service.

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