Seoul Station Airport Rail Transfer Tunnel Finally Opens

The Line 9 extension wasn’t the only thing that opened today. A new transfer tunnel at Seoul Station from the Airport Railroad to Lines 1 and 4 has finally opened making transfers for those heading to the airport via the subway and bus much easier and faster.

If you’ve ever tried to make this transfer, you’ll know that previously the two subway lines and the Airport Rail were not connected directly. This meant that to transfer, passengers had to leave the subway station, go up the escalators, navigate through the crowds at Seoul Station and then take another escalator down to the Airport Rail station. The new transfer tunnel reduces the transfer distance by 400m from 700m to 300m and also cuts down the time from 12 to 5 minutes.

Seoul Station Airport Rail Transfer Tunnel

Comparison of new and previous transfer paths.

Construction on the tunnel began in June 2012 and went through various safety tests as well as a “user check” together with potential users which included the Disabled Association. Similar to longer transfer paths in other stations, moving walkways are also installed to help keep crowds flowing. Note that the transfer tunnel doesn’t include the Gyeongeui Line which only has services to Munsan once an hour.

About This Author

Originally from New Zealand, Andy moved to Korea in 2007 and very quickly became interested in the many different public transport and urban development projects around Korea. He currently lives in Sejong city and is particularly interested in rail projects, transport hubs and technology.

12 Comments

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  • Wow. That’s great news. Thanks so much for the post.

    And it’s a pleasant surprise because I didn’t know about it till a couple days ago when one of my Korean friends just happened to mention it out of the blue. But he said the tunnel was going to open on April 28. (I just called him and he said he blew it speaking English, confusing March and April.) I’m really happy to hear it’s March 28 because I’m going to take a short weekend trip abroad on April 4. So I’m really glad to hear it’ll be open then. I’ll try to remember to comment with any details about it I might find out when I use it.

    Anyway, thanks again for the post. I really appreciate it as always.

    I’m also going to try line 9 from Sports Complex to Bongeunsa next week. I’ll try to post anything useful I might find out about that as well in the comments section.

    James 2 years ago Reply


  • Also, when I come back from the airport, I’m going to try to get to the bottom of the mystery of the message on the LED board in cars on the airport train that says that passengers with single ride tickets can’t transfer to the subway at Seoul Station. They have to get off at Gongdeok station. I use a T-Money card and have no problem, but I’d like to be able to tell friends visiting from abroad what the scoop is.

    I went to (what used to be the) main tourist office downtown near Jonggak station (the main tourist office is now in Wonju) and they had no idea what I was talking about. I was there on a Saturday, so they couldn’t call anyone at KORAIL to check.

    James 2 years ago Reply


    • Hey James. Cheers. The reason for that as far as I know is that you couldn’t actually technically “transfer” between the Airport Railroad and Lines 1 & 4 at Seoul Station according to the system. So if you left the Airport Railroad at Seoul Station on single ride ticket you couldn’t use it again because you were leaving the system. I believe this was shown in some way on the maps as well.

      Andy Tebay 2 years ago Reply


      • Thanks! I’m sure that’s right.

        I wonder if you’ll be able to transfer now with the new tunnel. For example, I wonder if you can buy a single ride ticket from Incheon Airport to, say, Myeoungdong and use it all the way through to Myeongdong station on line 4, which didn’t seem like something you could do before if you exited the airport line at Seoul Station and transferred to line 4 there.

        If I find out, I’ll post the info.

        James 2 years ago Reply


      • Just got back from a weekend trip where I used the new tunnel to get to/from Incheon airport.

        I’m 99% sure the new tunnel has made obsolete my question about transferring at Seoul Station with a single ride ticket. I’m pretty sure that, even though you have to tap your card to get in and out of the airport railroad, it is now a transfer between rather than an entry/exit to/from the subway and airport railroad. I can’t be totally sure since I use T-Money rather than single ride tickets, but I think you should now be able to get a single ride ticket at Incheon Airport that takes you to anywhere on the subway system now and use it to transfer at Seoul Station using the tunnel. I assume that means you should be able to do the same in reverse.

        James 2 years ago Reply


  • I wasn’t aware this was coming and took a photo of the new line four gates “floating” without a wall on either side, despite being activated, the night before it opened. The following day I saw the new line one tunnel entrance suddenly appear. Thanks for making clear what this was all about.

    CartoonChess (@CartoonChess) 2 years ago Reply


    • Ha no worries. There is also another much needed transfer tunnel coming up this year in Seoul. Can you guess where? :)

      Andy Tebay 2 years ago Reply


      • I can’t guess—but if it’s not Noryangjin or the Yongsan pair, I might be disappointed!

        CartoonChess (@CartoonChess) 2 years ago Reply


        • Haha yes it is Noryangjin although I don’t have an exact date for one when this will open yet. Will keep an eye out.

          Andy Tebay 2 years ago Reply


  • Was supposed to get together with one of my friends today (Monday March 30, 2015) but didn’t know where. He called up and said the place was near Seoul Station, so I got a chance to check out the new transfer tunnel in person.

    It’s really great—a HUGE improvement over what you had to do before (weave, push, shove, and elbow your way through the masses in the main train station). And it really does take only 5 minutes (from both lines 1 and 4) to the platform of the airport line—assuming you know what you’re doing and don’t have to stop to get your bearings.

    It’s a huge improvement, but not perfect (though I suspect the “imperfection” was unavoidable due to some pre-existing infrastructure) in that—at the moment at least— for the transfer from line 1 you have to go up and down some stairs before you get to the escalator/stairs descending to the main tunnel. They do provide a ramp to roll luggage on, but there is only one ramp on one side of the staircases, so if there’s someone coming in the other direction (and there were already plenty of people just two days after the tunnel’s opening), you’ll have to contend with them. That aside, though, it’s really awesome.

    I did a cursory walk through the line 4 transfer and it seemed good. But I mostly use line 1, so I checked it out in more detail.

    You get to the tunnel from line 1 by starting out the same way you used to go when you had to go the old way. Go up from the line 1 platform the same as before. But when you get to the top of the escalator/stairs, don’t go to your right and exit through the turnstiles to the area with Paris Baguette and Dunkin Donuts. Instead, diagonal to your left to access the tunnel.

    You pass by a little security/information booth on the right and then head up your first staircase. Walk a little to the second staircase. (There’s a sign here about an elevator under construction scheduled to be completed by 2015.10.31, but it wasn’t clear to me to/from where the elevator is going to be.) Then a little more and you’re at the escalator/stairs down to the main tunnel. Helpful video monitors just before the start of the moving walkways give information in both Korean and English on train times and destinations so you know how much time you have before the next train. A short two moving walkways later and you’re at the gates to the airport railroad. Then you’re in and you can proceed as before. (There was even a helpful volunteer just inside the gates to the airport line to answer questions.)

    Cool!

    It also looks like the tunnel provides better access to rush hour express trains on line 1 to Cheonan. The door to those trains was chained shut, though, when I was there at 2:30 PM and there was a sign that said it was only open 06:30-09:10 and 18:00-20:00 as those are the only times those trains run.

    Finally, for those heading to Tokyo Narita, there was a big advertisement for a new, high-speed (160 km/hr), 36-minute train from Narita to Tokyo. It’s a combo “Keisei Skyliner & Tokyo Subway Ticket,” which could be good for some travelers. Unfortunately, the billboard (almost all in Korean) doesn’t list a website for more info. It just tells you to search the internet for “스카이라이너.” But there’s more info at http://www.keisei.co.jp/keisei/tetudou/skyliner/us/value_ticket/subway.html . Have a look at other options on this website (like the less fast but cheaper trains on the Narita Sky Access Line and the Keisei Main Line) as the advertised combo ticket may not be the best bet for everyone. I think the combo ticket is also only available to non-Japanese citizen tourists. (It doesn’t say, though, if you have to be a “real” tourist to get the discount—i.e. not a foreigner with a work permit for Japan. You can’t get the JR “ICOCA plus Haruka” combo from Kansai airport to Kyoto if you’re a foreigner with a work permit for Japan—or have anything other than a tourist visa. So that might be worth checking into if you’re working/living in Japan.)

    James 2 years ago Reply


    • Hey James. Thanks for the detailed account. :) Good to hear that they’ve got the ramps for bags as well as the monitors.

      Andy Tebay 2 years ago Reply


      • Just got back from a weekend trip for which I had to fly from Incheon airport, so I got to use the new tunnel for real.

        Pretty much everything I said in my March 31, 2015 post applies. The only thing I’d say in addition is that I think that the 5-minute estimate of the time it takes to get from the subway to the airport railroad is a little rosy (unless you’re talking about from/to the ticket gate of the airport railroad rather than the platform where you actually catch trains to the airport). Not by much, though. I’d say maybe 6-8 minutes depending on how much luggage you have and whether or not you stand or walk on the moving walkways in the tunnel. I can quibble with the estimates on time saved by the tunnel, but there’s no arguing with the fact that this tunnel is awesome. It is SO much easier to get to the airport railway now. I love it.

        James 2 years ago Reply


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