Korail has announced the name of the new Saemaul trains which will begin running in the first half of 2014. After holding a naming competition where 1941 entries were collected, the train has been renamed the “ITX-Saemaul”.
The new name is disappointing as it is not only unoriginal but just plain confusing. This is because there is already a completely different service named the ITX – Cheongchun, commonly known as the ITX, that runs specifically between Yongsan and Chuncheon. It’s not far-fetched to think that some people will get mixed up between the two services, and I wouldn’t be surprised if people simply continued to call the Saemaul service by its original name. It seems likely that similar medium-high speed services may also use the ITX brand in the future.
The new trains will be electric (EMU-150), replacing the current diesel hydraulic cars and will consist of six carriages with 376 seats. The ITX-Saemaul will be able to reach speeds of 150 km/h and the interior of the trains is expected to be similar to those of the Nuriro service which runs on the Gyeongbu Line. 23 of the trains will begin operating at the beginning of 2014 with pricing, number of services and stops to be announced at a later date.
The Saemaul was originally introduced in 1969 as the “Gwangwang” and was later renamed in 1974 to commemorate the Saemaul movement. It was the fastest service for 30 years until the KTX was introduced in 2004.
While little detailed information about the electric vehicle itself has been released at this time, several design images have been making the rounds, though it cannot be confirmed if these are official at this time.