March 31, 2014 10:37
Tuesday marks the 10th anniversary of Korea's bullet train service. With a maximum speed of 330 km/h, KTX trains have brought about changes in people's lifestyles. Over the last 10 years, they have run a combined 240 million km and carried a total of 414 million passengers, or 150,000 people per day. This translates as an average Korean using the service more than eight times over the decade.
KTX trains can travel between Seoul and the southern port city of Busan in two hours and 18 minutes, enabling people to make same-day return trips from one end of the country to the other. A growing number of people have opted to live in the provinces and commute to the capital.
According to operator KORAIL, over 7,000 people now use KTX trains for their daily commute, with 23.8 percent regularly traveling between Cheonan and Seoul. The Seoul-Daejeon route was the second most popular with 11.3 percent followed by the routes between Daejeon and Cheonan (10.5 percent), Gwangmyeong and Cheonan (8.3 percent), and Seoul and Osong (8.2 percent).
Since the launch of the bullet train service, Busan has seen the number of international conferences held there jump 12-fold from 19 in 2003 to 224 in 2011.
However, the bullet train service has spelt bad news for airlines. As it now connects major cities across the country, more people opt to use it and the number of airline passengers has dropped substantially.
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