Analyzing schedule delay of mega project: Lessons learned from Korea train express

Seung Heon Han, Sungmin Yun, Hyoungkwan Kim, Young Hoon Kwak, Hyung Keun Park, Sang Hyun Lee

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

90 Citations (Scopus)


In 2004, Korea became the fifth country in the world to own and operate a high-speed railway called Korea Train eXpress (KTX). Numerous uncertainties and challenges during planning and managing phase resulted in schedule delays and cost overruns. The delay causes of each activity along the 412 km Korea high-speed railway route were very difficult to identify because KTX project consisted of 11 141 different activities. This paper evaluates challenges, obstacles, and performances of KTX project. First, critical sections in the railway route that influenced significant delays to project completion were identified. Then, delay causes of these critical sections were investigated thoroughly. The analysis discovered five major delay causes for KTX project. They are lack of owner's abilities and strategies to manage hi-tech oriented mega project; frequent changes of routes triggered by conflicts between public agencies and growing public resistance from environmental concerns; the inappropriate project delivery system; a lack of proper scheduling tool tailored for a linear mega project; and redesign and change orders of main structures and tunnels for high-speed railway, which is fundamentally different from the traditional railway construction. Based on the in-depth analysis of KTX project, through which a conceptual framework was established to identify the various facets of mega projects, this paper suggests lessons learned for engineers to better prepare and respond to potential causes of schedule delays for mega projects.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)243-256
Number of pages14
JournalIEEE Transactions on Engineering Management
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 2009

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
Dr. Kwak is an elected member of the Construction Research Council of American Society of Civil Engineers and a three-time recipient of the Project Management Institute’s research grant.

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Strategy and Management
  • Electrical and Electronic Engineering


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