SEOUL: South Korean President Lee Myung-Bak today expressed concern over a strike by railway workers who crippled the nation’s cargo train services for the fourth consecutive day.

KORAIL, which runs the country’s railway system, said 80 per cent of its cargo train services remained idle today because of the strike, with only 60 out of 300 daily freight trains running normally.

“I’m very concerned about the crippled cargo train services,” Lee told a workshop for government officials. “This is such a serious problem.” The president, who had ordered a tough crackdown on the ongoing railway strike a day earlier, said the “regrettable” industrial action was hampering the country’s efforts for economic recovery.

Some 16,000 out of 25,000 KORAIL workers have downed tools to press for their demands for higher wages, better working conditions and reinstatement of dismissed striking workers, since Thursday.

KORAIL officials said the strike has begun taking a toll on passenger train services, which had previously been unaffected.

High-speed KTX passenger train and urban subway services ran normally, but other passenger train services had to be cut by 40 per cent as staff were rushed to man freight trains, they said.

The railway service accounts for about seven per cent of South Korea’s passenger and cargo transportation.