North Korea banning train travel until February, report says

Transportation continues to be compromised after a flood earlier this year.
By Elizabeth Shim Contact the Author   |   Dec. 5, 2016 at 10:46 AM
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SEOUL, Dec. 5 (UPI) -- North Korea is banning train travel due to a "railroad crisis" in the aftermath of heavy floods that destroyed parts of the country's northeast in late August and early September.

A source in Yanggang Province told Radio Free Asia some members of North Korea's agricultural workers' alliance were momentarily suspended from boarding a train on their way to their eighth meeting.

"Until the internal electric power situation improves, ordinary travelers are banned from boarding trains until February," the source said.

Some of the train travelers were allowed to board a train leaving Pyongyang for the border city of Hyesan. Not all members of the organization could make the journey because only four rail cars had been restored.

Given the conditions, it would take "10 days" to transport all meeting participants to Hyesan, according to the source.

The source also said railroad authorities have mobilized volunteers to "recover and repair all trains" in the aftermath of the flood.

During the recovery period few have been able to travel by train to the northeastern part of the country, the source added.

North Korea has yet to report difficulties in transportation.

Instead, in the weeks following the flood, Pyongyang's Workers' Party newspaper Rodong Sinmun reported parts of the railroad system, including the area between two stations in Musan, a city near the China border, had been restored.

North Korea had also called its rail recovery efforts a "miracle" although problems have yet to be resolved. Pyongyang deploys six diesel-electric locomotives from China but two were dismantled due to the floods.

North Korea's response to the infrastructure issues, including a power shortage, has been to blame other countries.

The Rodong on Monday said "imperialists" are to blame for "power shutdowns" at factories and enterprises.

"They hope to drown our streets and villages in the dark," Pyongyang said in statement.

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