Subway Line Number 9 Must DeliverSeoul citizens will see the final section of line number 7 of the Seoul subway system open today (August 1). With the six-year construction complete, residents of the area will relish the return of peace to their streets. Any citizen can enjoy a free ride on the new subway for the next three days. We hope the commemorative events and performances in celebration of the line will compensate the residents who have endured the noise and mess created by the construction.
Meanwhile, Seoul Metropolitan City Council recently reverted to its original plans for subway line number 9, not yet in construction. Line number 9 will now refer passengers to the new Inchon International Airport without requiring transfer at Kimpo Airport station, and will run faster. The tunnel height has been increased by 30 cm so that the line number 9 tunnels can accomodate subway trains and airport railroad trains. This is good news for critics, who had insisted upon a direct connection between the airport railway train and subway line number 9. However, the decision must be backed by the Construction and Transporation Ministry and the Korean National Railroad (KNR).
KNR should review its plans for the airport railway once again. The optimum route to be taken by the express airport railway train would pass through Kangnam (the area south of the Han River), the likely alighting point for most of the airport‘s customers. If the already crowded Seoul Station is designated the terminal for line number 9, it will be nothing but the outcome of an outdated and illogical fixation on Seoul Station on the part of planners.
Work also remains for Seoul Metropolitan City. Above all, it must ensure that the new number 9 subway line lives up to the promise of ‘express’. The speed of the airport train should exceed 60 km per hour. Furthermore, train schedules must allow alternating express and slow trains in the rush hour.
Unfortunately, we lack precise know-how in these matters. We may need some advice and consultation from foreign specialists, if we want subway line number 9 to be a real express.
by Eum Sung-jik