Korea officially opened a direct railway linking downtown Seoul with the country’s main airport on Tuesday, a move that will greatly improve the convenience of travelers, the government said.
The Ministry of Land, Transport and Maritime Affairs said full-fledged commercial operation of the second phase of the railway system will start Wednesday and is expected to fuel greater use of trains by travelers.
The 20.4-kilometer section of railway, which cost 2.48 trillion won ($2.15 billion), connects Seoul Station in the central part of the capital city with Gimpo Airport, and will effectively reduce travel time and cost for passengers bound for Incheon International Airport station, located at the country’s largest airport.
The second phase follows the completion of the first leg of construction that linked Gimpo, on the western outskirts of the capital, with IIA. That 37.6-kilometer-long railway was opened to the public in March 2007.
Train officials wave their hands on Tuesday at a ceremony at Seoul Station marking the direct railway linking downtown Seoul with Incheon International Airport. (Yonhap News)
Construction on the entire double-track airport railway line started in 2001 at cost of 4.22 trillion won.
The ministry said a passenger on a train with local service can reach IIA on Yeongjong Island from Seoul Station in 53 minutes at a cost of 3,700 won, compared to traveling over an hour on a limousine bus that costs 15,000. It said that same distance can be covered by a taxi in just under an hour, if there is no traffic, but at a cost of 67,500 won.
People who board an express train can make the trip in 43 minutes for 13,300 won.
Authorities, meanwhile, said the opening of the train service could greatly push up the number of travelers and help the country cut back on energy use by getting people to take public transportation.
Besides the opening of the railway service, Seoul is moving to connect the Korea Train Express bullet train with the Seoul Station-IIA line by the end of 2012. Such a connection would allow a person to travel from Busan, in the southeastern corner of the country, to Incheon airport in two hours and 40 minutes, down sharply from six hours at present.
Because the KTX trains can travel at 180 kilometers per hour, they will be able to ferry passengers from downtown Seoul to IIA in about 28 minutes. (Yonhap News)