Electric Rail to Incheon Int'l Airport Opens
Travel time cut from Seoul to airport with the rail section from Gimpo to Seoul completed
Dignitaries led by Prime Minister Kim Hwang-sik, 3rd L, Minister Chung Jong-hwan of the Ministry of Land, Transport and Maritime Affairs, 4th L, and CEO Huh Joon-young of the Korea Railroad Corp. 2nd L, listens to an official of the Korea Railroad Corp., during a test-ride on the Incheon IntOl Airport Electric Railroad which was fully dedicated with the segment connecting Gimpo and Seoul of the railroad opening on Dec. 29.
The electric rail linking downtown Seoul and Incheon International Airport opened for commercial operation on Dec. 29, following a ceremony launching the new rail line held on Dec. 28 with a number of dignitaries attending the event led by Prime Minister Kim Hwang-sik, Minister Chung Jong-hwan of the Ministry of Land, Transport and Maritime Affairs (MLTM) and Gov. Kim Moon-soo of Gyeonggi Province, among others.
Prime Minister Kim, in his congratulatory speech, said many countries including Japan and China have been working to strengthen the role of their hub airports by turning the rail lines leading to major airports into high-speed rails and Korea, too, will have high-speed trains that can run as fast 180 km per hour running on the Incheon International Airport Railroad from 2013. The opening of the second section of the rail project linking the Incheon International Airport is very significant in that it will boost the international competitiveness of the airport. The Incheon International Airport Railroad is not only the rail line for the Seoul area, but it is the railroad gateway for Korea, an additional significance to the new electric rail, the prime minister said.
The new electric rail will help further develop Incheon International Airport into a hub airport in Northeast Asia, playing a huge role in boosting Korea's international prestige, Kim said. The new railroad will link the Seoul area in 40 minutes and will be connected to the KTX rail network in the days ahead so that the Incheon airport can be reached within two hours from anywhere in the country, he said.
The ceremony held at the Seoul Rail Station marked the completion of a 20.4 km long section of the electric rail from Gimpo Airport to Seoul connected to the 37.6 km long rail linking Incheon airport and Gimpo airport, completed in 2007, opening the Incheon International Airport Railroad officially. Now, it takes 43 minutes from Seoul to travel to Incheon International Airport with the opening of the new electric rail line.
The construction of the new rail line cost 4.218 trillion won, the first SOC project in Korea built entirely with private investment, and it took 10 years to complete the entire line, with the Incheon airport to Gimpo airport section completed in 2007. The electric rail line will be extended to link the digital media station, the Hongik University Station and Gongdeok Station by this November.
The line also links the Incheon International Airport cargo terminal, Eunso Station, Gumam Station, Gyeyang Station and Gimpo Station. The new rail cuts travel time between Yeongjong Island, where the airport is located, and northwest regions of Incheon City and Seoul down to 40-50 minutes from 90 minutes in the past, giving 3.2 million residents in SeoulOs Gangseo and Gangbuk districts easy access to Incheon airport. An additional 1.8 million residents in Seoul's Yangchon and Yeongdeungpo wards will bring the total population to benefit from the new rail to some 5 million people with six of the 10 stations on the new rail line transfer stations to subways. The first train from Seoul on the new rail starts at 5:20 a.m. daily and from Incheon airport at 5:30 a.m. The train will operate 214 times daily. Also operating is a non-stop train that travels both ways from Seoul to Incheon airport in half hour intervals.
The ticket price has been cut to 3,700 won for a one-way trip, down from 5,300 won. The MLTM projected that the number of passengers on the new rail would rise by 2.5 times the current number, about 2.87 million. Air passengers can send their bags from the Seoul Station before boarding the new rail and use other services including the morning check-in service so that they can take time off for sightseeing around Seoul before getting on the train.
The ministry will announce its plan soon to invigorate the new railroad and expand the number of passengers and areas to benefit from a KTX linkage. The plan will include the extension of KTX to Incheon International Airport, the elevation of the new electric line to a high-speed rail traveling 180 km per hour and connecting the line to subways Nos. 1 and 4 in Seoul by building underground tunnels so that passengers can transfer to the Seoul subways. When KTX is extended to Incheon airport, the travel time from Seoul to the airport will be cut to 28 minutes and from the airport to Busan to 2 hours and 40 minutes, making the airport easily accessible from any town along the Seoul-Busan High-speed Rail, thus helping to build Incheon International Airport's reputation as a hub airport in Northeast Asia.nw