Seoul is known for many things: Gangnam Style, Korean Dramas, and technology just to name a few. This week on my ongoing series about Korea’s implementation of advanced technologies, I’m turning my attention to an old favorite of mine: trains. Seoul has, in my opinion, the best subway system in the world. One can virtually travel to just about every corner of the Seoul metro area via the subway and it’s dirt cheap. At end of April, the metro’s latest line finally opened: The Everline.
The newest route isn’t a subway per se, but technically a Light Rail Transit (LRT) system. The term “light rail” was devised in 1972 referring to a new age of street cars in the United States and Europe. Traditionally, light rail systems operate on the same roadways as other vehicles, which sometimes leads to collisions; however, the Everline is different. The Yongin Everline has its own tracks and operates autonomously.
The Yongin Everline begins at Giheung Station. It should be noted that this not the same Giheung Station on the Bundang subway line, but rather one with an identical name. They are located adjacent to one another and allow for T-Money card use, but it will require a short walk between terminals and another ticket purchase.
The Everline is an automated system. This means no one’s driving the train! Well not really. Currently only one car makes the journey at each interval. Because of the space limitations, no driver is on board and the train is controlled remotely. This is similar to Seoul’s other automated line, the Sinbundang, linking Bundang and Gangnam.
The purpose of the Yongin Everline was to link Yongin City with Everland Resort. After a long three-year delay, residents and commuters can now make use of the system. Riding the LRT from its origin to Everland takes between 20 and 30 minutes, far shorter than using other methods of public transportation from surrounding areas. Furthermore, Everline terminal station is located at the car park and shuttle bus depot. This means that passengers can easily transfer from the train to the shuttle bus and zoom away to the land of fun.
Some may think that operating a single car at a time is a waste, but when one looks at the numbers, they tell a different story. Each train accommodates a total of 226 passengers. It may be cramped at that capacity, but it would still be far more comfortable than riding Line 2 during rush hour. The LRT will operate at intervals between two and eight minutes, meaning 25,000 – 30,000 people can be transported per hour. With a speed of just short of 40kph, the Everline is actually faster than most Seoul subway lines.
The Yongin Everline operates between 5:30am and 11:30pm. Trains depart at each terminal at those times. Meaning that if you stay at Everland until closing, you can still get home with ease (and not have to fight traffic in the car park). During the morning rush hour (7-9am), the train operates at a 3 minute interval. This is especially helpful for students commuting from Bundang to Kangnam Universtity. In the evening (5-8pm) trains run at 5 minute intervals, making it one of the more convenient options if heading to or from the park.
If you’re in Korea, would riding the Yongin Everline be of interest to you? If outside of Korea, are light rail trains (or automated) trains popular? Please share your answers with us.