Following the increasing number of light rail lines opening around South Korea, a tram renaissance is also quietly brewing in several of the nation’s cities. One of the first places expected to bring back traditional trams since they disappeared from Korea nearly 5o years ago, is Pangyo Techno Valley in Seongnam City. In the past we’ve written about bi-modal trams that have been trialed in a few places around the country, but these haven’t seen much success so far.
The Pangyo Tram project was announced by the Mayor of Seongnam City at a press conference last year and will be a short 1.5km line. The route will ultimately act as a shuttle between Pangyo Station and industrial complex areas, with final designs to be confirmed next year. Construction will then take place over the next two years with the aim to open at the end of 2018. Building the tram is expected to cost a total of 32 billion won.
Below is a map of one of the proposed routes with stops at Sampyeong Bridge (삼평교앞), Geumto Stream (금토천), Jungang Plaza (중앙광장), Park (공원), Pangyo Station (판교역).
As you can see from the map above, the tram is designed so that it mainly runs through “transit malls” in between buildings and only covers a minimal amount of road. The trams won’t have any overhead wiring, instead running on batteries, and creating a safer, better looking environment at the same time. Hyundai Rotem have already developed and started trialing such trams (see banner image), with Suwon planning to use the same type of vehicles for another future tram project.
Seongnam City delegates also recently visited Helsinki, Finland which has a more than 120 year history of operating trams, in order to carry out benchmarking and learn more about tram technology. The trip resulted in the two cities agreeing to share information about trams and tram technology in the future.
You might expect an area like Pangyo, which is home to companies and institutes that deal with cutting-edge technology, to already have some sort of modern “clean, green” mode of transport. However, the reality has been far from that.
One of the main issues is that although Pangyo is connected to the Sinbundang Line, the Techno Valley area where a majority of the 70,000 employees work is actually quite a walk from the station, especially for some parts. In recent years, this led to many workers using their cars to commute instead of using public transport, creating what was dubbed a “parking war” by the media due to the lack of spaces.
Nevertheless, it’s hoped that once the Pangyo Tram is complete, more commuters will change their habits and find the experience of hoping off a tram right outside their office building a more attractive option than spending time searching for a carpark or parking illegally.
The project is still in the early changes, but the timeline line is a short one and one that I hope will progress swiftly. I’m definitely keen to see Pangyo Techno Valley help lead the way with environmentally-friendly and pedestrian-focused transport, as well as act a role model for other cities with similar plans. There are currently four other cities already planning to build trams including Seoul and Suwon, and several other cities considering it. We’ll be sure to post about these other tram projects in the future once projects are confirmed and more information becomes available.