"Our world is constantly changing and thanks to the benefits of technology, and this change is getting faster every year."
Seoul is ranked as the world's "leading digital city" and South Korea is among the most technologically advanced and digitally-connected countries; it has the third most broadband Internet users among the OECD countries and is a global leader in electronics, digital displays and mobile phones among many other innovations. And of course, as regularly covered here on SmartRail World, it the home of some fantastic rail and metro transport developments. One of the leading operators is NeoTrans, launched in 2011, this privately-owned line was the world's fifth subway to run completely driverless and the second in Asia. The 31.29 km line connects Gangnam in Metropolitan Seoul with the neighbouring satellite cities of Seongnam and Gwanggyo. Our Editor, Luke Upton recently gained an exclusive interview with the CEO and President of NeoTrans Min Cheol Jeong and he tells us what’s special about South Korea, what’s he likes most about his job and of course his favourite rail journey…
Luke Upton (LU): Thanks for your time today, as an introduction, what was your, education training and work career before you became CEO?
Min Cheol Jeong (MCJ): After graduation from the University I immediately started work for Doosan, one of the largest Chaebol’s (a large family-owned business conglomerate) in S. Korea. I followed the typical career path that all new management employees do in that I worked at various divisions (as CEOs and CFOs) of Doosan gaining knowledge and experience in working and gaining cooperation with fellow employees, knowledge of our various business areas and insight on how to manage large groups of highly skilled and motivated employees in complex and diverse organizations; skills that I bring to my job as the CEO of Neotrans. I am also taking a Master’s Course to continually improve myself and keep my management skills up to date with changes around world rather than solely satisfying my current position.
LU: South Korea has been long considered a leader in rail innovation, why do you think this is?
MCJ: Yes! We, as both people and rail transportation companies take great pride in this reputation. The reasons are simple and complex. As our government did it’s best to grow the economy nationwide during the late 1970’s and early 1980’s our transportation infrastructure needed to have financial investment as well.
With our economic growth we saw a rapid growth of traffic grid-lock as more and more people were able to buy their own cars. In addition the need to move large quantities of goods and services to support increased and began overwhelm our road and rail infrastructure. So out of necessity we had to grow our transportation capacity and we had to grow it quickly. This challenge led us to seeking innovative approaches to resolve these social and economic constraints. And now we have demonstrated that South Korea has world class rail transportation systems such as the KTX (Korean High Speed Train) and driverless railroad systems.
LU: What do enjoy most about your job?
MCJ: We at NeoTrans, give people the ability to quickly get to work, to play, to see family etc. in an economical, reliable and stress free manner; a good, positive affect we have on people’s everyday lives. Also, we, NeoTrans, contribute the Global polity of “eco-friendly transportation”, which allows us to have the ultimate “win-win” situation. I am very pleased every day to carrying out my business policies of Safety-First, Communication Management and becoming a Globalized Railroad Operator”.
LU: What’s the biggest challenge in your role?
MCJ: Keeping up with change and innovation. Our world is constantly changing and thanks to the benefits of technology, and this change is getting faster every year. This trend also applies to the world-wide railroad market and not just South Korea. Our passenger experience needs to be sophisticated rather than just simply a means to transport people. It needs to now comply with passenger demands such as Wi-Fi access, seamless intermodal transfers etc. that have become a part of their lives. We, Neotrans, do our best to offer these services sooner rather than later.
LU: What will be some of the biggest differences between rail travel now and in 10 years’ time?
MCJ: The implementation of innovative solutions in Intelligent Transportation Systems to make rail travel as customer friendly, efficient, economical and environmentally responsible as possible. In 10 years, the railways will develop a co-ordinated approach in the intelligent management of the digital information needed to run the railroad operations especially for passengers and operators, which needs a robust and solid ICT (Information & Communications Technologies). This ICT technology will interact with Big Data which will create railroad related new work. Also, the trend of the global rail market is the driverless system and therefore I assume that the effort to make a bridge between drones and the railway will also be implemented. And all this comes together with big efforts to meet “No Carbon, Green Growth” to prevent global warming and climate change.
LU: And finally…. what’s your favourite rail journey?
MCJ: The most joyful rail journey I had was in May 1987. I backpacked to some European countries (Italy, Germany, Austria, Switzerland and others) with my coworkers. Everything I experienced in backpacking was new and fascinating, especially the comfort and convenience by delivered by the European rail network. This experience of enjoying the foreign railroads and how they operate fostered my love for rail transportation. Now I am a CEO of NeoTrans. I, together with our management and employees, are doing our best to convey the experience and feeling I had in European, together with benefits of efficient, comfortable accessible rail transportation and safety, to our riders.
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