10 New Lines in Seoul’s Metro Network

A look at Seoul’s metro-map is quite intimidating because it contains over a dozen subway lines (I counted 17, not including Everline) in a wide-reaching network. However, it doesn’t stop authorities from planning further extension and improvements of the system. End of July Seoul announced that they want to build 10 new subway lines in order to give every citizen the possibility to get on a subway within a 10 minutes radius from their home.

 

Gyeonggi-Do Will Also Expand Rail Network

Before we go into details of Seoul’s plan, I just want to mention that Gyeonggi-do will expand their subway-network as well. 9 lines with 163 km of rail are going to be build until 2020. The costs are estimated to be 5.8 trillion KRW. Their main motivation is to increase the model share of rail transport from 8.9 % to 17.1 %. You can find a map of the new lines for Gyeonggi-do here.

 

Seoul’s Plan

Actually, the magic number for Seoul is also 9! I mentioned 10 lines but 1 of them is an extension of Metro Line no. 9. Even though it isn’t a completely new plan, the plan contains still some surprising element: The former mayor of Seoul Oh Se-hoon intended to build seven new lines. After Park Won-soon became mayor of Seoul he postponed the plans, which is usually a sign that they were never supposed to be build. Now  the city government published that they are going to build ten new lines.  Six of the lines have been in the plans of the former mayor. The line, which was scratched, was the DMC-Line, a 6.5 km tram line from Susaek Station to the World Cup Stadium.

 

Reasons for New Lines

One of the main arguments for this plan is that  the density of subway lines in Seoul should be higher. The density of rail in Seoul is lower than in London, Paris and Tokyo. Besides that, the model share of subway is (only) 36 % (bus 28 %, private vehicles 31 % and 5% others). This measure aims to increase the modal share of public transport to 75%. City officials also said that 38% of Seoul’s area have poor public transport systems.

This is a map with the new lines:

Seoul New Rail Lines Plan

(Source: Daum Cafe Kicha)

The red lines are the ones, which were already part of the first plan; green lines are new to the plan or there are extensions to the red ones; the dotted purple lines are lines, which are taken into consideration as possibilities after completion of the other lines.

Here’s an overview of the new lines:

No. Name of Line Route Length (km)
1 Sinrim-Line (신림선) Yeouido to Seoul National University Entrance 8.92
2 Dongbuk-Line (동북선) Wangsimri Station to Sanggye Station 13.34
3 Myeongmok-Line (면목선) Cheongryangri to Sinnaedong 9.05
4 Seobu-Line (서부선) Saejeol to Seoul National University Station 15.77
5 Uishinseol Extension-Line (우이신설 연장선) Uidong to Banghakdong 3.50
6 Mokdong-Line (목동선) Shinwoldong to Dangshin Station 10.87
7 Nangok-Line (난곡선) Boramae-Park to Nanhyangdong 4.13
8 Wiryeshin-Line (위례신사선) Wirye New Town to Sinsa Station
14.83
9 Wirye-Line (위례선) Bokjeong Station to Machin Station 5.0
10 Subway Line no. 9 – Step 4 Bohun-Hospital to Godeokgangil1jlgu 3.80

One of the most exciting lines is no. 9 on the list: The Wirye-Line is going to be a surface tram. It will look like this:

Seoul Tram Line

(Source: Daum Cafe Kicha)

The new town of Wirye is going to be build southeastern Seoul (near Suseo, the new KTX station). The tram will just run through this new town. The LRT-lines in the list from 1-5 and 7 are going to be completely underground. Even the rail yard is going to be underground! That’s pretty amazing.

 

Negative Opinions About New Plan

Critics to this plan were expressed in an editorial piece at The Korea Herald.  The main critic points are costs and challenge to bus services. Seoul has already high debts and the new lines will cost around 8.5 trillion Won. The investment is going to come from Seoul (45%), national government, private sector and rail operators. Of course, the critic also mentions Yongin and that Yongin’s problem with Everline should be a lesson for Seoul. In my personal opinion, Seoul isn’t Yongin and so the chances for failure are much lower. Every addition to the network inside of Seoul is going to have great benefits for citizens and investors. Seoul confirmed with feasibility studies that all lines are sustainable and necessary.

The next point against the new lines is the challenge to buses, which can indeed happen. However, why should bus services and metro compete against each other? Both are part of the public transport system in Seoul. A better accessibility of public transport through new metro lines means also that there are users transferring from the new lines to buses.

 

Realization

The plan will be finalized in September when Seoul will submit it to the Ministry of Land, Infrastructure and Transport. If they give their OK (including money), then the lines will be built within the next 10 years.

 

Resources and Related Links: The Korea Herald | The Korea Herald Editorial | Daum Cafe Kicha | Seoul Traffic | Hankyoreh

About This Author

<p>Co-Author of Kojects. Interested in Sustainable Transportation, Urbanism and Korea.</p>

12 Comments

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  • I am not sure how I feel about this. I think there are other things the city should be spending that MUCH money on. It seems trains are a very large investment, where as buses are very small and can be changed on a dime if demand for a route is just not there. Ridership probably won’t be bad, but will the train encourage more people to take public transport over buses?

    Does anybody have numbers about trains vs buses in pulling people out of their cars here in Korea? Just curious.

    Rhaulian 4 years ago Reply


    • Hey,

      thanks for your comment and really sorry for my late answer! I prefer buses, too. Especially, if a city doesn’t have a lot of money to invest into public transport, an extension of the bus network should be prefered. In Seoul’s case there’s already a great bus network. I think that there’s not a district or neighborhood without a handful of bus lines passing through them. So this measure is just going to add more public transport (in form of subways) to the network. For your first question, I think that people tend to use the (public) transport method that is most convenient and brings them to their destination in the shortest time. During rush hour subways have advantage in this aspect (even though they are really crowded).

      Regarding your second question: I don’t know about any statistics about that but in my previous post about the M-Bus you can read about how many people switched from normal express-bus or car to M-Bus (unfortunately not about subway).

      Nikola 4 years ago Reply


  • Hey Nikola,

    Great article, just want to ask how they expect to ensure every citizen is within a 10 mile radius by adding adding 90km of rail to a network that is already close to 1000km long?

    Are they planning a BRT network around it or just relaying on conventional bus routes?

    Glohry 4 years ago Reply


    • Imagine putting a 10 minutes (probably 10 min walking distance, so around 700m?) buffer around every subway station in Seoul. Then you’ll see some empty spots and these are (more or less) the places, where the new lines will be added!

      I haven’t read anything about a BRT network as part of the new extensions. It would be great though!

      Nikola 4 years ago Reply


  • Hey Nikola,

    I’ve got the following question: I’ve found a pdf from Seoul Metropolitan Infrastructure Headquarters, published in December 2012, where they also talk about expanding the Metro Network and building new lines. (Link: http://english.seoul.go.kr/upload/uc/seoul/swf/eBook_/Br_010_rapidtransit/seoul_rapidtransit.pdf) The information in this pdf is almost the same as in your source from Seoul Traffic, however, there are some minor differences, like the length of the planned lines, or sometimes the first- or final stop is different, for example the Dongbuk-Line starts in both sources at Wangsimri, but ends at Sanggye Station in your source and at Eunhaeng Sageori in mine. Do you know why that is? My source is a little bit older than yours, does that mean it’s outdated?
    I guess they just changed their plans, but I’d like to be sure about that, since I need this information for my project paper. I’d be very glad if you could help me!

    Yuri 4 years ago Reply


    • Hi Yuri,

      that link is very interesting! Your guess is right. They used outdated plans for this brochure. The DMC line was scrapped and many other changes were done. The current administration revised the previous plans. They made detail assessments to improve the plan and so I think they came up with the changes.
      I hope that I could help you! If you have any other questions related to your project paper, let me know ;)

      Nikola 4 years ago Reply


      • I indeed got one more question: Along with the 2004 bus reform project they introduced TOPIS (Transportation Operation and Information Service System) and BMS (Bus Management System), are those two the same thing? All of my sources talk either about one or the other, but never about both. Their functions sound very similar, but not completely identical, so I really have now clue if they are the same or something different. If they aren’t the same thing, could you please briefly describe their functions/differences?

        Yuri 4 years ago Reply


    • Hey,

      sorry for the late reply. I was traveling for a couple of days.

      TOPIS and BMS are two different things. TOPIS observes the traffic in Seoul (for all modes of transport!). TOPIS get his data for subways from the subway operators and bus information from BMS!
      BMS creates and distributes all the real-time information as far as I understood and like the name says, it focuses on public bus.
      So the main difference is that BMS distributes real-time information from first-hand and that TOPIS is an aggregation of data for the purpose to inform about traffic jams.
      I couldn’t find any explanation in English. If you are able to understand Korean, then this link may help: http://blog.seoul.go.kr/1900
      At the TOPIS website, there’s an explanation about TOPIS, too: http://topis.seoul.go.kr/sub/sub3a.jsp

      I couldn’t find any details about BMS. In Korean it is called “버스종합사령실”. Maybe this article can help you a little bit (because it mentions both): http://www.koti.re.kr/mail/pdf/KOTI_2011_04.pdf

      Nikola 4 years ago Reply


  • Hello Nikola,

    Very nice article! Do you know when the Ministry of Land, Infrastructure and Transport will release their decision on whether to go or not for those 10 projects? Thanks! MB.

    MB. 4 years ago Reply


    • Hey MB!

      Thanks for your interest. There is no general answer for this because every project will be decided separately. I can give you a short update on the progress of each project:

      Sinrim-Line is most advanced and they are currently finalizing the plan for the line.
      Dongbuk-Line and Myeongmok-Line are working on the plan. All these three lines have their fundings mostly secured. The Sinrim-Line and Dongbuk-Line are expected to be completed in 2017 and the Myeongmok-Line will be in open from 2018.

      The other seven lines are preparing the first draft of the plan and details of funding (private, ppp or public). There isn’t yet any official time plans for them, so we don’t know when constructions are going to start and when they are going to be completed but like I wrote, Seoul hopes to complete all lines until 2020.

      Nikola 4 years ago Reply


  • Hi.. For the construction of new subway lines, are the projects done through tender by contractors or the government actually has their own?

    haro_xin@yahoo.com.sg 4 years ago Reply


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