South Korean researchers returned home Wednesday after six days with officials from Pyeongyang inspecting North Korea's western Gyeongui rail line.
"The North Korean side was very cooperative in this round of inspections. We only had six days, but we did our best to make it a substantial survey."
Since last Friday, about 30 inspectors each from Seoul and Pyeongyang moved together along almost 400 kilometers of North Korean train tracks from the border town of Gaeseong up to the northernmost city of Sinuiju.
To do that, they linked up six train cars from South Korea with five from the North.
The researchers concentrated mainly on the roadbeds, tunnels, bridges and the rail operation system.
This was the second time researchers from the South have surveyed the North's western railway, the first time being 11 years ago.
"The tracks have not gotten better or worse since we checked them last time. It seems the climate didn't have much impact."
The team says North Korean trains can move at a speed of only 20 to 60 kilometers an hour and a bit faster on the tracks north of Pyeongyang.
When asked whether it'll be possible to renovate the tracks or whether they'll need to be replaced, the team explained:
"We need to get the experts together for a discussion. Some researchers say we can use the tracks, and others say we can't. I think we'll come to a conclusion if we do another survey or a more detailed one."
For now, it's only the inspectors who've come back to Seoul -- the South Korean train cars used for the on-ground survey will now be sent to North Korea's eastern city of Wonsan.
From there, another round of inspections will begin this Saturday -- this time, on the eastern Donghae rail line -- and a different group of researchers from Seoul will cross the border for that.
The overall joint survey is to end on December 17th.
Oh Jung-hee, Arirang News.