KTX Jeolla Line riders irked by lack of service

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KTX Jeolla Line riders irked by lack of service

Every Friday afternoon, Kim Hui, a 52-year-old banker from Jeonju, sits restless at work, cautiously trying to sneak away from his office in Euljiro, central Seoul, before 6 p.m.

He has to catch the last bullet train back home to Jeonju, where his family waits. The problem is that the last KTX train on the Jeolla Line departs at 7:20 p.m. from Yongsan Station in central Seoul.

Kim, if he misses the last train back home that night, would have to take the express bus, which takes longer and is much more cumbersome, or just give up on seeing his family, whom he only gets to see on weekends.

“Because the KTX train cuts off early in the evening, there are so many inconveniences,” said Kim. “I definitely have to miss dinner, and I just rush through my work in order to get out of the office quicker, so I feel sorry for my colleagues at work and feel guilty.”

The KTX Jeolla Line departing from Seoul runs only six times a day. This makes it difficult for people from Gurye County, Suncheon or Yeosu and other cities and counties on the Jeolla Line to make a day trip to Seoul.

Hence those people who have to commute back from Seoul are in a predicament.

The first train departs from Yeosu at 5:20 a.m. and the last at 9 p.m. The Yeosu to Seoul train departs from Yongsan in central Seoul at 5:20 a.m. but the last departs at 7:20 p.m.

The average time it takes from one end to the other is 2.5 to 3 hours.

“I wanted to use a train that is safe and convenient, and one where I don’t have to worry about delays,” said a 43-year-old civil servant, Park, who takes three to four business trips to Seoul per month.

“But putting up with the inconvenience of the KTX Jeolla Line, which comes infrequently, and then having to wait an hour or two in line for tickets which are difficult to purchase, I end up seeking the express bus.”

Even compared to other KTX lines passing through North or South Jeolla, also referred to as the Honam region, the Jeolla Line falls short.

But the Korea Railroad Corporation, or Korail, the operators of KTX said, “The train schedule is organized taking into consideration the demand, number of cars, number of passengers and management ability.

The usage of the Jeolla Line on weekdays is 82 percent and 113 percent on weekends, according to Korail. The Gyeongbu Line is 87 percent on week days and 108 percent on weekends.

Choi Jin-ho, chair of the North Jeolla Provincial Assembly, said, “For the convenience of some 3 million citizens of the Honam region, Korail, the Prime Minister’s Office and the Ministry of Land, Transport and Maritime Affairs need to actively work with KTX Jeolla to increase the number.”

By Jang Dae-suk [sarahkim@joongnag.co.kr]

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