In the past few years it has become increasingly easier to travel between Seoul and its surrounding areas and cities, previously only accessible by buses or standard trains. Lines such as the Gyeongui Line (경의선), Gyeongchun Line (경춘선) and Jungang Line (중앙선) have been completely revamped, straightened, electrified, double tracked and integrated into Seoul’s metropolitan transport system.
The Jungang Line, which had its metro services extended to Yongmun Station (용문역) at the end of 2010, has been undergoing constant renovation and double tracking with a further extension from Yongmun Station to Seowonju* Station (서원주) slated to open next month on September 25. However, unlike the previous section of the line which runs frequent trains that are linked with other lines in Seoul, the section from Yongmun to Wonju will not be linked to Seoul’s public transport system, with all metro services terminating at Yongmun.
The new section of the Jungang Line will also play an important role in the 2018 Pyeongchang Winter Olympics as the station will connect directly with the new Gangneung line at Seowonju Station. While not a dedicated KTX line, trains will still no doubt be able to travel at higher speeds with the straightening of the tracks thus reducing travel time for trains on the line. Construction on the Wonju-Gangneung Line begins at the end of this year.
As was the case with the line to Chuncheon , many of the old tracks will no longer be used and most likely demolished or kept for historic reasons. While it is often sad for many to see a familiar track or route be ripped up, hopefully remnants of the Jungang Line can also be reused for other purposes such as bicycle paths and rail biking as seen on the old Chuncheon Line.
The Jungang Line was first opened in 1942 and reaches from Yongsan in Seoul to the city of Gyeongju in Southern Gyeongsang. The line was electrified all the way to Yeongju by 1988, as the extra power was needed by the many cargo trains which used the line. Nevertheless, the line was relatively ignored and remained mostly single rail, windy and slow. Metro services originally only ran between Yongsan and Seongbuk (성북), but were later extended to Deokso (덕소) at the end of 2005. Since 2007, when the first extension of metro services was made from Deokso to Paldang (팔당), the line has been gradually extended over the years in stages.
In 2010 the line saw the final stage of the Seoul metro connection completed when the extension to Yongmun Station was opened. After the extension to Wonju is complete, renovation of the line will continue down in stages, eventually reaching Shingyeonju Station (신경주역). There is currently no date of when the entire line will be finished but travelers can expect gradually faster trips over the upcoming decade.
This post will be updated with any new information about the line or schedules.
*Seowonju: West Wonju