If you have looked up at the subway map recently, no doubt you would have noticed a few new things. While the line may come as a surprise to many, the residents of the Uijeongbu area will have become accustomed to seeing huge pillars go up since construction started in July 2007.
On July 1, Uijeongbu’s “U-line” will finally open for service. The line is expected to provide an easier way for the residents of the city to travel locally and connect with the main metro connection at Hoeryong Station. (회룡역). The service will not be immediately integrated with other public transport services and a standard fare of 1300won has been decided for the line. However, the line will eventually allow transfers between bus and subway once a period of data collection has finished.
The first official services will begin from the first morning trains on Sunday, July 1, but citizens will be able to try out the service free of charge from June 26 to June 30. Services run from 5am to 12:30pm and 15 carriages in total will operate every 3.5 minutes during peak times, and every 6-10 minutes during off-peak hours. A detailed run-down of the service schedule can be viewed here (Korean).
The U Line is light rail line which will serve the city of Uijeongbu. Starting at Balgok(발곡), the line passes through Hoeryong(회룡) where it connects with Line 1(경원선) and then continues through 12 more stations, finally ending at Tapseok(탑석). Unlike the light rail line being built at Shinseol-dong Station, this line has been constructed above ground. According to U Line, a ride from one end to the other cuts what was a 40 minute bus trip to 19 minutes, less than half the time. Detailed photos of the line can be viewed here and here, thanks to Ian Han.
The U Line will be fully automated with no driver, adding to the ever growing list of automated transport in South Korea. Each “train” has two carriages and one train can hold up to 236 people. The vehicles running on the line were made by Siemens Transportation Company and can travel up to 80 km/h. The U Line is approximately 11km long and so understandably has only one standard fare. Due to the shape of the line, investigations into the viability of creating a loop are also currently being carried out . The dotted line on the map below marks out roughly how the loop would be completed.
While many are looking forward to the opening of the line, one report claimed that passengers on a test trip said that the ride was shakier than expected. Excessive noise from the system has also been confirmed in 20 locations and U Line plans to compensate for this once the reason for the high sound levels are found.
U-line will be the first light rail line to open on the wider metropolitan network as the Wolmido and Everline light rail lines are still yet to begin services.
The U Line was built by a GS Construction consortium made up of various companies.
More information on the vehicles built by Siemens Transportation Systems can be found here.