High-speed railway pushed forward
The Land Ministry is aiming to complete the Honam high-speed railway between Seoul and Mokpo, South Jeolla at least one year earlier than previously planned, according to Minister Chung Jong-hwan.
“The Honam high-speed railway’s route between Seoul and Gwangju was scheduled to launch by 2015 and the route between Gwangju and Mokpo was planned to be opened by 2017. But those dates will likely advance by over a year,” Chung said. The remarks came in an interview last Friday with the Yonhap News Agency, his first of the year.
The Honam railway will be the nation’s second high-speed line following the KTX, which runs between Seoul and Busan and was completed in 2002. When the new bullet train railroad is finished, a one-way trip between Seoul and the southern port city of Mokpo will take 106 minutes, less than half the time it takes now.
The Ministry of Construction and Transportation, the predecessor of the Ministry of Land, Transport and Maritime Affairs, announced in August 2006 that the line would be completed by 2017 and use a total budget of 10.5 trillion won ($7.8 billion).
The change of schedule came with a campaign pledge by President Lee Myung-bak to launch the route by 2012. The Ministry, however, deemed 2012 unachievable.
Regarding controversies over the Gyeongin Canal project, which the ministry said last week will begin in March, Chung advised people not to “simply focus on whether it will contribute to increased logistics volume or not.”
The canal will start near Gaewha-dong, in western Seoul’s Gangseo District, adjacent to the Han River, and follow a parallel route along the expressway leading to Incheon International Airport. The 18-kilometer (11.1-mile) canal, linking Seoul’s Han River and the West Sea, will help increase the use of low-carbon transport and serve as a new tourist attraction, the minister added.
Chung also said that the government will “seriously discuss” easing anti-real estate speculation regulations this month. The restrictions include designating three districts in southern Seoul as speculative zones and putting a ceiling on the sale prices of private homes.
By Seo Ji-eun Staff Reporter [firstname.lastname@example.org]