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2-hour non-stop express train to cover Seoul-Busan line

Posted March. 10, 2017 07:15,   

Updated March. 10, 2017 07:19


Starting this August, “non-stop express trains” will operate to serve passengers from Seoul to Busan and Gwangju. In addition, a “one-stop” express train will be introduced for Gyeongbu Line, stopping at either Daejeon or Dongdaegu.

The Ministry of Land, Infrastructure and Transport announced its basic plan on railroad distribution on Thursday. Once non-stop trains operate, passengers from Seoul can arrive in Busan within two hours and arrive in Gwangju within 1 hour and 25 minutes.

At present, the fastest lead time for an express rail covering the Seoul-Busan course is two hours and 15 minutes, which stops twice at Daejeon and Dongdaegu Stations. The Suseo High Speed Railway takes two hours and nine minutes. When the new plan is introduced, the minimum lead time from Seoul to Gwangju will shorten by 10 minutes to one hour and 33 minutes. “One less flag station can save around five to seven minutes of lead time,” said Joo Jong-wan, chief of railway operations department at the ministry.

A one-stop express train will also be introduced for the Gyeongbu line, stopping at either Daejeon or Dongdaegu. In addition, more regular express trains will stop only once on one of the two stations. Under the plan, the ministry plans to increase the number of express trains stopping less than three stations from the current 15 percent to over 20 percent.

With shortened time of arrival, fares will see a moderate increase. In terms of fare increase, Joo said, "We are currently discussing ways to differentiate fares of non-stop and general express trains.” According to the plan, a Seoul-Busan Korea Train Express (KTX) fare will rise from the current 59,800 won to over 60,000 won.

The number of flag stations will also be flexibly adjusted based on demands per day and hour. Trains stopping at various stations will be operated during commuting hours, while trains with less flag stations at other hours.

However, regions where express trains do not stop will gain higher accessibility to trains with less than 20 minutes of waiting hours for transferring. While trains that can be transferred within 20 minutes were limited to 58 percent in 2016, the ministry aims to increase that rate up to 70 percent.

Mugunghwa trains frequently used by commuters will also place more seats. Korea National Railroad (KORAIL) announced that it would increase one to two coaches for 14 trains at the Gyeongbu and Jeolla lines. Starting this Friday, 1,008 seats will be added for the Gyeongbu line and 144 seats for the Jeolla line. “Additional seats have been added to provide more convenience to passengers who used to compete for seats at the Yeongdeungpo-Suwon, Suwon-Cheonan, and Daegu-Gumi courses during commuting hours,” said Hong Seung-pyo, chief of Passenger Marketing Department at KORAIL.

As competition between KTX and SRT heightens, the ministry plans to introduce a bidding process for railroad distribution. Based on service quality, safety, and fees on using railroads, operators will bid for the busiest hours.

Sung-Min Park min@donga.com