As some of you may be aware, construction has been taking place between Iksan, Suncheon and Yeosu in order to get KTXs running to the upcoming World Expo being held in Yeosu next year. The new line will be a vast improvement and is expected to start operating on October 1st. If you are in a rush, you can view a brief summary of the upgrades at the bottom of this post.
Getting to this part of the country by train has never been that easy, not helped by an often singular and curvy track. Additionally, the line was not fully electrified which meant that if organizers ever hoped to get people down to Yeosu by KTX, some major work had to be done. Since September 2005, construction has been underway to double track, straighten and fully electrify the line from Iksan to Suncheon.
The section of track from Suncheon to Yeosu was an even more windy and run down track, with many of the stations on the line having closed long ago. To get any electric trains down to Yeosu, let alone a KTX, it required an entirely new line to be built. The first construction started in January 2007 on the 5.1km Yeocheon tunnel and in December the same year, work started on a brand new terminus style station in Yeosu. Terminus stations, like Grand Central Station in New York, are fairly uncommon in South Korea.
Getting to the World Expo
Passengers will be able to get to Yeosu via a direct train from Yongsan Station. As Yongsan does not directly connect with the Airport Railroad, it will require a short trip to Yongsan from Seoul Station on line No.1 for tourists coming in via Incheon Airport. Obviously there are many other ways to get to Yeosu, but the trip via KTX will be promoted the most heavily. (This is evident in the promotional video.)
How long will it take?
Many figures and times have been thrown about over the past year about how long it will take to get to Yeosu by KTX. One of the reasons for the ambiguity surrounding the travel time is due to issues regarding the signalling systems on the line. Once the line opens, trains (KTX included) will only be able to travel at a maximum speed of 150 km/h. Nevertheless, this will shorten the current 5 hour and 13 minute Seamaeul trip to a snappy 3 hours and 20 minutes. After the new automatic signalling systems are installed next year, high-speed trains should be able to reach approximately 230km/h, cutting the time to a mere 2 hours and 57 minutes. Finally, a high-speed section of rail between Osong and Iksan which is due to be completed in 2014 will slash the time even further to 2 hours and 28 minutes. Although the last part will not be finished in time for the expo, the travel time will have already been cut by over 2 hours.
To view an image of the plans from Suncheon to Yeosu, click here. (Image: KORAIL)
35.2km of the line from Iksan to Shilli Station has been built using a new type of capital funding system called BTL, which stands for ‘Build’, ‘Transfer’ and ‘Lease’. The system is based on citizens or private investors investing money in public infrastructure to be constructed. Once construction is complete, the rights are handed over to the government and investors are entitled to receive profits for a period of time or receive rent by leasing the infrastructure to the government.
- Double tracking and full electrification from Iksan to Yeosu
- KTXs to run to Yeosu in time for 2012 World Expo
- Line opens on October 1st
- Time and Speed Changes
- 90km/h – 5hrs 13mins
- From October 1:
- 150km/h – 3hrs 20mins
- After signalling change (next year):
- 230 km/h – 2hrs 57mins
- Technical Info: 25,000 AV with ATS Signal System