September 02, 2010 11:19
A planned expansion of the bullet train network will soon make it possible to reach any part of the country within an hour and a half, according to a blueprint unveiled Wednesday. The plan is part of a broader strategy to boost the role of the railway and reduce dependence on roads.
◆ Improved Speed
The second stage of the Seoul-Busan high-speed railway, which will connect Daegu and Busan, is scheduled to open in November, while another link passing through South Jeolla Province in the southwestern part of the country will become operational between 2014 and 2017. Another connecting Suseo in southern Seoul and Pyeongtaek, Gyeonggi Province will be completed by 2014.
Thje high-speed KTX trains will also pick up and drop off passengers at Incheon International Airport. Conventional railways under construction now will be built in a straight line and upgraded to accommodate trains traveling at speeds of up to 230 km/h.
Metropolitan express train services will be introduced connecting Seoul with its satellite cities. Once completed, it will take just 19 minutes by train from Samseong Station to Dongtan city -- a journey that takes more than an hour now. Ilsan will be reachable in just 16 minutes from Seoul compared to 42 minutes at present, while it will take just 12 minutes to get from Uijeongbu to Cheongnyangni Station in Seoul.
◆ 'One Big City'
Once the networks are operational, the government says most locations in the country will be reachable in less than 90 minutes. Hong Soon-man, director of transport policy at the Ministry of Land, Transport and Maritime Affairs, said, "A total of 84 percent of the Korean public will be able to use bullet trains enabling them to travel to 82 percent of all locations in the country in less than 90 minutes and 95 percent in less than 2 hours. The entire country will essentially become one big city."
The government also plans to develop the railway industry into a new engine of growth and build a new generation of bullet trains capable of traveling up to 430 km/h by 2012 and export them overseas. The government projects it will cost W97 trillion (US$1=W1,186) by 2020 to realize the plan, with the private sector shouldering W38 trillion. The government will tap into its infrastructure financing reserves to fund the project.
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