‘Seoul subways vulnerable to earthquakes’

By Lee Hyun-jeong
  • Published : May 13, 2014 - 20:58
  • Updated : May 13, 2014 - 20:58
More than one third of the tracks of Seoul’s four oldest subway lines are not earthquake-safe, escalating concerns over public safety following a recent subway crash, a report showed Tuesday.

According to a report released by ruling Saenuri Party Rep. Lee No-keun, 36 percent of Seoul’s Subway lines 1 to 4 are not built with an earthquake-resistant design. The combined distance of the tracks amounts to 147 kilometers. The rest can endure possible earthquakes, he added.

About 87 percent of the tracks of these lines also require quakeproof repair work, Lee added.

Starting from 2005, subway tracks were required to be built to withstand earthquakes with a magnitude of 5.7-6.3. Subway Lines 1 to 4, operated by Seoul Metro, however, were not affected by the new rule as the lines were built between 1971 and 1993.

More than 4 million passengers a day use the four oldest subway lines.

Subway lines 5 to 9 in the city are all built with quakeproof structures.

In an effort to ensure subway safety, Seoul Metropolitan Government started track renovation work last year, but only 3.3 kilometers of tracks have been upgraded due to budget constraints.

The city and Seoul Metro estimated the reinforcement work would cost around 322 billion won ($314 million) but the pair was only able to inject 47 billion won between 2011 and 2013, officials said. While both are planning to invest an additional 84 billion won from this year, 60 percent of the cost is still needed.

With both more than 1 trillion won in debt each, Seoul Metropolitan Government and Seoul Metro requested the central government to partially shoulder the cost last year, but were rejected. Currently, the central government only subsidizes 40 percent of the cost for building new subway lines.

Earlier this month, public concerns escalated over subway safety after an eastbound train rear-ended another at Sangwangsimni Station on Line 2, allegedly due to a traffic signal malfunction. More than 240 passengers were injured, with seven in serious condition.

By Lee Hyun-jeong (