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Railroading in Korea

Railroading in Korea

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Published by cunningb

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Published by: cunningb on Jan 31, 2010
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01/31/2010

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Railroading in Korea
Capt. Max N. Brown, 714th Transportation Railway Operating BattalionAn American can teach a Korean to run a railroad by our standards, but it takes patience.There are many things we can do in fifteen minutes that take Koreans two hours. Thiswouldn't make much difference if combat didn't make all operations urgent. But whenyou realize that the Korean railroads moved approximately 95 per cent of all tonnage tothe front, you know the Koreans (and the Americans who assisted them) gave a pretty fairaccount of themselves.I commanded Company C, 714th (later 724th) Transportation Railway OperatingBattalion. Company C is the operating company
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it furnishes the men who run the trains.In Korea we had to tailor our operations to the situation, and many changes were made.The Koreans provided full crews for their trains, and their hands were on the throttles. Inlate 1951 we began to bring some diesel engines into Korea, and we placed our own menin the cabs of these
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plus a Korean pilot engineer.Except for this late development, it would appear that we had no job. This was not true.We provided about a hundred conductors. The Korean conductor on each train was incommand and, in a sense, our man was an advisor. But on one thing our conductor hadabsolute control: dropping cars. To prevent wholesale pilferage we insisted that no carcould be cut out of a train at a way station unless our conductor approved. He had tocheck each claim of a hotbox or other failure.Beginning at Pusan, the 714th Battalion operated beyond Wonju on the eastern railroadand to Tacjon on the double-track main line. Normally, an operating battalion controls 90to 125 miles of track, but we covered 500 to 600 miles. In this situation Company C wasassigned 400 of the 511 men in our battalion, even though the T/O&E gave usPage 66only 289. To get the conductors we needed for our operation we used our unassignedsteam engineers and gave others on-the-job training.The shortage of freight cars placed a severe strain on the railroad system. We hadapproximately 7,000 cars, but 500 of these were in very bad shape. Estimating a seven-day turnaround between Pusan and the front, we figured 8,500 cars were the minimum tohandle the load. We received a one-day advance notice of our requirements, and that keptus jumping to have cars on hand. More than once the cars were not in our yards and wecould not meet the demand.The shortage of cars and their constant use led to several problems. We could not takecars out of circulation to repair them as often as we should have. Also, we could not

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