In a previous post about the unoperational Everline, I mentioned the Wolmi Eunha (Galaxy) Rail and its demise. Though it appeared early last year that the end was nigh for the Wolmido Monorail, it has been given a last chance to get up and running.
Although the Wolmi Eunha Rail was completed in 2009 and scheduled to open later that year, the opening of the line was repeatedly postponed — a very familiar story. Operations came to a full-stop after a wheel came flying off during trial operations and injured a women who was passing below. The incident resulted in a full investigation and results of the first inspection by the “People’s Inspection Board” in late March revealed the following:
- Original Y Shape guide rails must be replaced with aluminum rails
- Protection for falling objects which is required by law was not installed on either side of the rails
- Bolts connecting beams and top plates found to be unsafe
- No drainage installed
The investigation also declared the line was unsafe to operate and there was much talk of removing the line completely. This news have been devastating for those who live and run businesses on Wolmido, as the Monorail was expected to revitalize the area which was once a popular spot for teenagers and university students. In recent years the area had become somewhat rundown and lost much foot traffic to shopping malls and theme parks closer to Seoul.
However, in October last year Incheon Transport and the Incheon Development and Tourism Corporation announced that the decision had been made to try and salvage the line which racked up costs of at least 85.3 trillion won by 2009. Though it is hoped that the line will start operating in May 2012, it won’t be an easy road ahead for those involved in the process. Every precaution will be taken to ensure there is no repeat of the previous accident and in the event of another incident the line will most likely be completely removed. Once every part of the line is confirmed as safe, the line will begin trial operations for a period of four months from Ferbruary 29 to May 29.
The 6.3km loop has four stations, starting at Incheon Eunha Station and stops at Wolmido Park, Wolmi Culture Street and Wolmi Museum before looping back to Incheon Eunha. Five sets of two connected carriages will run every 5-15 minutes and each of these can hold up to approximately 70 people. The system has a maximum speed of 50 km/h and if opened on the original date, would have been the first monorail in the world to use Urbanaut technology. Ironically, photos and information about the construction process can still be viewed in detail on the Urbanaut website. You can also view photos of the stations at the bottom of this post.
Though the service will be run by Korail Travel (코레일 관광개발) and technical aspects serviced by Incheon Metro, the line is still a tourist attraction and understandably, it appears the monorail will not be integrated into the public transport system. There has been no word on ticket prices, but with the fallout from the incident combined with the cost of ensuring the service is safe, I would not be surprised if they are a little pricey.
If the line eventually opens it will be interesting to see if the next two phases are even considered. Phase two would bring the line all the way up to Dongincheon Station (동인천) and phase three loops it from there past Freedom Park (자유공원) and back to Incheon Eunha. Below is a picture of the planned extensions.
I look forward to the line finally opening up for the sake of the local economy and morale of the area. It really makes one hope that lessons will have been learned from both Wolmido and Yongin’s suffering. Ultimately, whether construction, negotiations and operations are carried out better in the future, lies in the hands of those in charge and those who fail to carry out their responsibilities should be held accountable.
The line is double tracked from Incheon Eunha Station to Wolmi Park Station.
It seems that sometime from 2010 to 2011 the name of the museum was changed from “The Museum of Korea Emigration History” to Wolmi Museum. Good call.