The northern extension of the Bundang line will open on October 6. Construction on the extension began in October 2004 and since then downtown Gangnam has had to put up with reduced road width, trucks and cranes while the line was installed. The trouble will be worth it for many who have been waiting years for a better connection between central Gangnam districts and the north of Seoul. Trains will operate every 3-4 minutes during peak hours and every 8 minutes at other times.
This extension brings the original Bundang line through Gangnam and north of the Han, terminating at Wangshimli Station(왕십리역). While the primary purpose of this extension may have originally been giving residents in Seongnam(성남시) better access to Gangnam and Northern Seoul, it is likely that it will play a more important role for those travelling and commuting in this area. Travel time from Seolleung to Wangshimni Station is also reduced by 14 minutes thanks to the new route.
Since the extension passes right through the main business district of Gangnam, it will be largely used by by Seoul residents as it provides a missing link which has been desperately needed for the large number of workers in Gangnam. Until now, commuters have had to take lines from the east or west, and for residents in the densely populated north-east area of Seoul, travelling to this area can be nothing short of frustrating. The extension also meets with the extension of Line 9 at Seonjeongneung Station (previously Samneung Station), which is also under construction and expected to open in 2014 or 2015. Once complete, it will mean that central Gangnam will have a much denser subway system with stations at a majority of major intersections.
From Seolleung (선릉) which is currently the first station on the Bundang line, it will proceed north to the following stations.
- Seonjeongneung(선정릉) – This station will also connect to the Line 9 extension currently under construction.
- Gangnam-gu Office(강남구청) – This station also serves Line 7.
- Apgujeong Rodeo(압구정로데오) – Located at the Galleria intersection in Apgujeong.
- Seoul Forest(서울숲) – This station will be closer to Seoul Forest than the current Line 2 station.
Wangsimni Station already connects lines 2, 5 and the Jungang Line, and once the extension is open it will become the first station to have four transferable metro lines in one place. Although Seoul Station also has four lines, you must leave the subway system and pay again at another gate to transfer between the Gyeongui Line and the other three lines. It can be expected that Wangsimni Station will receive a huge boost to its already large patronage as passengers begin to use the new connection.
Although this extension crosses the Han River, it does so not by bridge, but by tunnel. This is not the only underwater tunnel, Line 5 also has two tunnels which pass under the Han. The tunnel is 846 metres long and used a TBM (Shield Tunnel Boring Machine) to dig under the river. It is the first time the technology has been used in Korea. The two tracks are separated and thus can be used as separate evacuation routes. Click here to view photos of inside the tunnel and the TBM.