Yesterday Seoul announced that Seoul Metro and Seoul Metropolitan Rapid Transit Corporation (SMRT) would be merged together following a majority vote from the unions of both corporations. Seoul Metro operates the majority of lines 1 – 4, and SMRT is responsible for lines 5-8. Seoul intends for the change to improve services and safety by standardizing equipment and facilities across all lines, as well as combining the skills of staff from both operators.
74.4% of union members voted in favor of the consolidation which is slated to go ahead in March 2017 at the earliest. An attempt to combine the corporations was made two years ago, but failed to gain a majority vote. Talks resumed in September after an accident earlier in the year at Guui Station (Line 2), where a matainence worker fixing a screen door was struck and killed by a train.
According to the labor agreement, workers will not be forced to leave as part of the restructuring. Instead, new staff won’t be recruited for retiring staff if there are remaining employees due to overlap between the two companies. This is to take place over four years and is expected to cut staff numbers by 1029, with savings from restructuring to be reinvested into safety and better working conditions.
It’s not yet known what Seoul’s new main subway operator will be called, with the city holding a naming competition from Novmeber 25 – 29 . You can enter the competition via Seoul’s website.
Image: Wikicommons – LERK