Only one year late…

Suncheon Bay’s PRT to be launched as ‘SkyCube’.

In case you hadn’t noticed, Suncheon’s PRT will finally open for commercial service on 19/20 April following its trial operations during the Suncheon Bay Garden Expo. News reports seem to have inconsistent dates for the launch but this is often due to the actual opening ceremony being held the day before services begin.

This is also exactly one year after it was supposed to open for the expo, the original date being 20 April 2013. (Did somebody get the launch date wrong or something?)

In any case, it’s great to see that it will be finally up and running for good. The transport system has been renamed ‘SkyCube’ and is of course being touted as a green transport solution. Though it baffles me as to why SC-PRT seem to insist on comparing the cost savings with that of a standard rail line/subway when it would have never been an option in such an environment anyway.

Check out our previous articles for more information:

PRT System to Open for Suncheon Bay Garden Expo
What’s the story with Suncheon Bay’s PRT?

Related Links/Sources:
SC-PRTNewsis  | Data News (Korean Press Release)

 

China will build a HSR through North Korea

No country in the world is expanding its high-speed rail (HSR) network as fast as China. It’s impressive how many thousands of kilometers they have built and how they connected the most important cities. China is even competing with countries like Germany, Korea or France for high-speed rail construction projects in countries around the world. Note that HSR was introduced in 2007 in China! And now, China is going to build a HSR line in the most unexpected place: North Korea. Read more of this post

News About Korail Strike

In the last weeks we received comments, emails and questions about the strike of rail workers union in Korea. Some readers seemed disappointed that we didn’t cover this story. Primarily other obligations didn’t leave any time for a detailed analysis. And second, even though the strike was about the operation of a new railway in Korea, this issue was deeply-embedded in the current political atmosphere and I don’t have enough knowledge to grasp this complex field. Still I don’t want to leave this topic out and thus, I collected the most important news articles in order that everybody, who is interested in this topic, can do research easily with this post. Read more of this post

Three New Stations for Gyeongchun Line [Updated Post]

Image: Ahn Woo-seok

Image: Ahn Woo-seok

Update 4 – December 2013: All three stations have now been opened with Sinnae(Shinnae/신내역) Station having finally opened on December 28  2013. Unfortunately work has not even started on building a Line 6 Sinnae Station extended from the current terminus at Bonghwasan due to a disagreement between KORAIL and SMRT over whether the Line 6 station should have one or two tracks. Photos of the new Sinnae Station can be seen here

Update 3 – November 2013: Cheonmasan Station will finally open on November 30. View photos from the latest progress on Sinnae Station which is expected to open on December 28.

Update 2 – July: As you can see from these photos which were recently taken of the Cheonmasan Station construction site, the station is still far off opening. Estimates at this stage put the opening date in November.

Update:According to MLTM, Mukhyeon Station has been renamed to Cheonmasan Station and will be opening for service on June 29, followed by Shinnae Station on September 14.

On December 15,  Byeollae Station (별내역), the first of three new stations on the Gyeongchun Line was opened officially. This will be followed by Sinnae Station (신내역) in early 2013 and Cheonmasan Station (Formerlly Mukhyeon묵현역) in June 2013. Byeollae and Sinnae stations are located in areas which are currently already under heavy development. Byeollae Station in particular will serve Byeollae “new city“, a massive new development on the the outskirts of Seoul and situated near the start of the Gyeongchun Line. Read more of this post

Goodbye Haeundae Station…

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.

Haeundae_Station_20131207_144537

The new Haeundae Station – Image: 안우석

Read more of this post

Final Bundang Line Extension Opens

The day is finally here…for some anyway. The final Bundang Line Extension from Mangpo (망포) to Suwon (수원) will finally opened today (Saturday 30 November). Over the past three years the southern end of the line has been extended in stages with Jukjeon – Giheung (5.1km) and Giheung – Mangpo (7.4km) being completed in the Decembers of 2011 and 2012 respectively. Of course the northern extension from Seolleung to Wangshimni was also opened in 2012.

bundangext.jpg-large

Thanks to @qiranger for the image.

Read more of this post

Sustainable Transportation in Korea

UN-HABITAT published some weeks ago the GRHS 2013 (Global Report on Human Settlements) with a focus on sustainable human transport. Even though the report sometimes mentions Korea/Seoul and it contains an info-box about the bike sharing system in Changwon (p. 137),  a background study about sustainable transport in East Asia was more interesting for me. This report analyzed the condition of transport in China, Japan, Korea (South AND North), Mongolia and Taiwan. The authors seem to be great experts about mainland China and Shanghai but not so much about other regions. Nevertheless, it gives a nice context about sustainability in the transport sector of Korea. This post is going to summarize their main findings related to Korea without going too deep into the topic.

Read more of this post

What’s the story with Suncheon Bay’s PRT?

There has been some confusion over Suncheon Bay’s PRT system after the head of SC-PRT announced that it was stopping trial services that have been open to the public according to this article by NSP Communications.

The transport system was originally supposed to begin operations in April on the same day that the Suncheon Bay Garden Expo 2013 got underway. Unfortunately, the PRT was far from ready and didn’t open to the public until nearly four months later on August 15. Check out the view from one of the pods filmed back in May in the video below.

Despite this, the system is still in its testing phase and the article states the mixed messages emanating from the PRT operator. One director in the company said that the test operations would only be open to the public until Chuseok, while the CEO of the company claimed that they would be open to the public until the promised date of October 20 when the Garden Expo ends.

Earlier in the year four government officials leading the PRT project were also disciplined after it was found that the company constructing the line had already been chosen in advance.

Unfortunately most major light rail projects in Korea thus far have been marred by either accidents, fallout between companies or extended delays in opening. Considering that there are plans for numerous other light rail projects – not just in Seoul but around the country, one hopes that planners will learn from the mistakes of others.

Full Operation of Night Bus Services

Back in April we wrote about the beginning of night buses on two routes. The trial was successful with over 220,000 passengers (2,100 people per night!) and so Seoul is going to begin operation of 7 new night lines from September 12. A survey among Seoulites also found out that 88% of the people support bus services throughout the night.

The night buses will also get a special branding: They are going to be called “Owl buses” and this is the concept behind it:

owl-buses

This map in Korean shows where the nine routes are going to operate:

seoul-night-lines

 

Overview of Night Lines in Seoul

N26: Western Seoul Depot – Jungang Depot (강서차고지~중랑차고지) *already operating since April*

N37: Jingwan Depot – Songpa Depot (진관차고지~ 송파차고지) *already operating since April*

N13: Sanggye-dong – Songpachagoji (상계동~송파차고지)

N16: Dobongsan Depot – Onsu-dong (도봉산차고지~온수동)

N61: Yangcheon Depot – Nowon Station (양천차고지~노원역)

N62:  Yangchoen Depot – Myeonmok-dong (양천차고지~면목동)

N10: Ui-dong – Seoul Station (우이동~서울역)

N30: Gangdong Depot – Seoul Station (강동차고지~서울역)  

N40: Bangbae-dong – Seoul Station (방배동~서울역)

 

During the trial the fare price was only at 1,050 KRW but along the start of the other night lines from September 12 the fare will rise to 1,850 KRW. Of course, the bus drivers of the N-lines will have higher wages than their colleagues of the daily services. They aren’t allowed to work during the day to prevent fatigue. The special features of the bus is that the drivers will be separated by a special partition. This should prevent drunk passengers to to attack or distract the driver. Enjoy the ride through Seoul’s night!

KTX Collides With Another Train in Daegu

On Saturday morning a Mugonghwa bound to Seoul got too close to a KTX train, which was on his way from Seoul to Busan. The KTX was hit at the last passenger wagon and derailed. The accident happened at the entrance to Daegu train station and this means that both trains were on very low speed. There was a second KTX train standing on third rail track right at the accident place, who got also damaged, because the Mugonghwa pushed the KTX towards this standing vehicle. You can see pictures by Yonhap News Agency here and see a graphic about the accident place here.

All train operations were put on hold at first and later that day most trains only operated between Seoul and Gimcheon/Gumi and between Busan and East-Daegu (Dong-Daegu). It came to a large chaos at train stations and at the transfer places to buses for the route between Gumi and East-Daegu. KORAIL organized taxis and buses to bridge the part.  It was criticized that KORAIl, esp. the staff at Daegu Station, didn’t inform passengers about the circumstances and it took them too long to find alternatives.

There were no injuries among the passengers of both trains. One man called the ambulance and went to the hospital but he had nothing serious. Passengers used the emergency exits through the window to get out of the train. Investigations have to be made but there are assumptions that the Mugonghwa oversaw signals and the train conductor didn’t wait until the KTX entered the station completely. Removing the train wagons will take until early morning of Sunday, according to the Ministry of Land, Infrastructure and Transport. Train operations on Sunday should work according to normal schedule.

 

Resources and Related Links: Yonhap News 1 | Yonhap News 2

 

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