Update: This line has officially been named the Gyeonggang Line (경강선) and will be opening for service on September 24, 2016. It will also operate temporarily over the Chuseok period free of charge. These free services will run every hour from 9am to 5pm on 13 – 18 September.
While some parts of Gyeonggi-do almost seem like a part of Seoul due to how well they’re connected to the metro system, there are still many areas of the province that seem distant due to the lack of any local rail public transport.
One of the upcoming lines being built by Korail will finally bring a rail link to some of these areas including the cities of Yeoju, Icheon and Gwangju (not to be confused with the large city of the same name in Jeolla-do).
Seongnam – Yeoju Line
The Yeoju Line is set to open in the first half of 2016 and begins underground in the well connected but more densely populated city of Seongnam at Pangyo Station (SinBundang Line). It then passes through Imae Station (Bundang Line) before continuing towards Yeoju.
The line will initially have 11 stations with one more — “Seongnam Station” to be added later to coincide with the opening to the GTX line from Samseong – Dongtan.
Below is the list of stations.
Click to view a list of the stations
The line is a standard metro line similar to line one and is almost all above ground. The only underground sections are from Pangyo – Imae. The route will take approximately 90 minutes from one end to the other and it has been reported that services will operate 30 mins (every 15 mins during peak times) and every 60 mins from Bubal to Yeoju. Gyeonggi Province proposed last year that Korail should also add express services, claiming that the 90 minute travel time was too slow. This express service would only stop at major stations Pangyo, Imae, Gonjuam, Bubal and Yeoju.
Personally I don’t believe an express service would reduce times significantly considering there are only 11 stations and most of these are relatively spaced out but of course just having an “express” can make commuters feel like they are travelling a lot faster by not having to stop as often.
Another interesting point is that it looks as though the line will not actually be operated by Korail itself as can be assumed from this official tender put out for Yeoju Line operation by the Ministry or Land, Infrastructure and Transport.
Connecting More of Gyeonggi
One of the main purposes of the Yeoju Line is to free up pressure on the No. 3 National Highway which I’ll talk about more below. Of course the other is to give better connectivity to those living in Gwangju, Icheon and Yeoju areas. Residents will now be able to enjoy sitting back and riding into the Bundang area, where no doubt many will work.
A larger number of residents most likely work in Seoul and although these cities have efficient and well established red bus services to the capital, those living not too far from the Pangyo end of the line will be able to easily transfer there and take the SinBundang line to Gangnam in just 16 minutes.
One interesting thing that won’t exactly excite many residents, is the distance from many of the stations to main centres. This includes many of the main stations which are built far enough away from residential and business areas that you would need to catch a bus or taxi to get there. See the map of where Yeoju Station is located for an idea (also maps from Gwangju, Icheon and Neungseo). It will be interesting to see if this stimulates development in the areas directly surrounding the station.
Future Plans: New Central Rail Line to Reach Jinju
While at first glance this may just look like a short new line to give metro access a few nearby cities, it is actually part of a whole new “heavy rail” line which is planned to reach all the way down to Jinju in Jeolla Province. The line called the 중부내륙선 or the Jungbu Naeryuk Line (Central Inland Line) follows a similar route to national highway (국도) no. 3. The first section will start from Pangyo and travel across the Yeoju Line until it branches off at Bubal station where it makes its way down to Chungju and then to the terminus of the existing Mungyeong Line (closed in 2000 and used for railbikes).
Construction between Bubal to Chungju began in August 2014 an is expected to be completed in 2018, and Chunju to Mungeyong is expected to open in 2021. The remainder of the line from Mungyeong – Jeomchon – Kimcheon – Jinju is still in the planning stages.
There are even further plans for Pangyo to link with KTX station Gwangmyeong Station via the planned Wolgot – Pangyo Line, and supposedly)link to the also planned second airport railroad.
A big thank you to Rodd for kindly providing us with photos of construction on the line.