The last section of the Seoul-Busan high-speed railway will open on Nov. 1., a step closer to the government’s plan to make anywhere in the country reachable within 90 minutes.
The Ministry of Land, Transportation and Maritime Affairs said on Wednesday that the line will enable people to travel between Seoul and Busan in 2 hours and 18 minutes.
“With the extension of the KTX Seoul-Busan line, the accessibility between the metropolitan areas and other regions nationwide will largely improve, getting one step closer to our plan to achieve a 90-minute nationwide life zone by 2017,” a ministry official said.
The Seoul-Busan line connects the newly created East Daegu-Busan and existing Seoul-East Daegu line. New KTX stations were established along the line in Osong-Gimcheon (Gumi), Singyeongju and Ulsan, which has so far been suffering from low accessibility by train.
The land ministry expects the new KTX line and the overall increase in the runs of KTX trains to increase the per day bullet train passengers from 106,000 to 139,000.
Yet the government raised the fare for the Seoul-Busan line to 55,000 won ($49) and 51,800 won for weekends and weekdays, respectively. It explained that the raise was inevitable due to the increase in the length of the line.
With its active pursuit of green growth, the government has raised its budget for railway construction rather than roads in 2011, aiming to put stride to its plan to expand the country’s bullet train network.
The land ministry also announced last month that it plans to push policies to turn the cities with KTX stations into central cities for economic development, thus forming KTX economic blocs. Five main blocks Seoul/Incheon, Daejeon, Gwangju, Daegu and Busan/Ulsan regions, plus Gangwon and Jeju regions in order to stimulate regional development.
When realized, the entire nation will become akin to a single mega-city region, linked by bullet train lines, where cities with those stations function as core bases.
The government speculates that those who use high-speed railway services will account for about 84 percent of the whole population by 2025, while its extent will reach up to 82 percent of the nation’s total land area.
By Koh Young-aah (firstname.lastname@example.org)