Thinking of taking the train to Haeundae next summer? Don’t be caught out when you arrive at a brand new station in a completely different location to what you might be used to.
While I haven’t blogged much this year due to being so busy, I couldn’t help but find some time to write about one of my favourite stations and sections of track which I’ll never be able to get to by train again.
(The former) Haeundae Station (구해운대역) had served South Korea’s most famous summer beach destination since 1934 until a couple of weeks ago when the station was moved from its convenient location directly in front of the Haeundae subway station and just a 5-10 minute walk from the beachfront. Travellers will now find Haeundae Station seated on a hillside next to the national army hospital in Jwa-dong(좌동) and is no longer within close walking distance of the beach (now a 15 minute drive away). The new location of Haeundae Station can be seen on the map at the bottom of this post. Below it, you’ll find the new location of Songjeong Station (송정역) which has also been moved.
Why the long face?
Well apart from the proximity factor, one of the highlights of getting the train to Haeundae via the Donghae Nambu Line (동해남부선) was the final part of trip where trains followed the coastline from Songjeong Station to Haeundae Station. Though only a short piece of track that took about 6 minutes to travel, it was something that everyone looked forward to and was the perfect greeting from a place which people go to enjoy the sun, water and sand. In the last few weeks leading up to the closure trains were full of passengers wanting to experience this view from the train for the last time.
The station itself has also been a well known landmark in the area and has been in operation since 1934. Here is a collection of photos taken on the last day of operations at the old station.
So what happens to this abandoned track with such a great view?
For now you can go and walk the track and enjoy the scenery at a more leisurely pace. This is has proved to be popular so far and already bloggers have been documenting their walks of the track. Check out this great post which covers the walk from the old Haeundae Station all the way to the old Songjeong Station.
According to news reports, the city plans to turn the abandoned track into a park for the public with walking paths, bike paths and lookouts. Of course there is also the option of rail bikes which have proved popular on other abandoned tracks around the country.
Why did they build a new station so far away from everything including the local subway?
The move is due to the double tracking and electrification taking place on the Donghae Nambu Line which will not only allow for more frequent services but also hopefully an intercity connection similar to Line 1 in Seoul. According to the FRDB plans for the new station was moved to the outskirts of the area over concerns about noise and vibrations from the trains passing through. Of course the existing track was a no-go as it had no room for another track and passed through several level crossings.
Will it get better?
Currently a new station named Udong Station is being built just down the road directly in front of Busan’s major exhibition centre BEXCO which is set to opened in 2015. This station will have a direct connection for people to access the Line 2 subway via Busan Museum of Modern Art Station (시립미술관역). Here are some photos taken at the beginning of November of the Udong Station construction site (where the red bars are) and the new Suyeong Station.
There is also a proposal being pushed by the city to extend Busan’s Line 2 to reach Songjeong Station for easier access but this still doesn’t appear to have had the go-ahead.
So things will get better – it may just be a couple of years away. In the meantime I’m sure access to and from the new Haeundae Station will improve, with a shuttle bus already set up to take passengers to somewhere more convenient. (I have no more info on this shuttle bus at the moment sorry.)
Sources and Further Reading: KNN Article and Video (Korean), Last day at old Haeundae Station (Photos), Dongan article on closed section of track (Korean), Blog post on abandoned section with great pics