Seoul rail system to double in sizeThe government unveiled plans Thursday to double the size of the rail infrastructure in the wider Seoul area in the next decade to speed up transportation and reduce fees for residents living in the region.
Under the joint plan from the Ministry of Land, Infrastructure and Transport and the ruling Democratic Party, residents living in the wider metropolitan area will be able to travel to major points across the region in around half an hour by 2030.
Although it currently takes around 80 minutes to travel from Incheon to Yeouido in western Seoul, the rail expansion will allow commuters to travel the distance in less than 40 minutes, according to the Transport Ministry.
“As the residential area expands [in the capital], there are growing inconveniences in terms of transportation,” said Transport Minister Kim Hyun-mee. “By 2030, the transportation network in the metropolitan area will be expanded by twofold from current levels to 2,800 kilometers [1,740 miles].”
Transportation in the wider capital region has become an increasingly important issue as nearly half of the population lives in the area.
According to Statistics Korea, there were 25.7 million residents in the area of Korea’s total 51.6 million population as of last year.
The government hopes to achieve its plan by breaking ground on two rail lines as scheduled in 2023 and 2024, while pursuing construction for two additional lines as soon as possible.
It expects 77 percent of the population in the metropolitan capital region to benefit from the new rail lines, adding that it would also consider constructing an additional line in the western part of the region to accommodate more commuters.
On top of the new rail construction, the government said it will double the operation rate of express trains to 35 percent in 2030 from the current 16 percent for subway lines that run across the wider capital region such as Line No. 4.
Buses are also part of the wider transportation overhaul as the planned mass transfer centers such as Samseong Station in southern Seoul and Kintex Station in Goyang, Gyeonggi, will help reduce transfer times by up to 30 percent. It added that it would consider connecting the system with other mobility services such as ride sharing to encourage use of public transportation.
The government plans to achieve this while slashing commuter fees.
It said that it would introduce a special transportation payment card from next year that will reduce transportation fees by up to 30 percent through a mileage system.
BY CHAE YUN-HWAN [firstname.lastname@example.org]
with the Korea JoongAng Daily
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