A look at Seoul’s metro-map is quite intimidating because it contains over a dozen subway lines (I counted 17, not including Everline) in a wide-reaching network. However, it doesn’t stop authorities from planning further extension and improvements of the system. End of July Seoul announced that they want to build 10 new subway lines in order to give every citizen the possibility to get on a subway within a 10 minutes radius from their home.
Gyeonggi-Do Will Also Expand Rail Network
Before we go into details of Seoul’s plan, I just want to mention that Gyeonggi-do will expand their subway-network as well. 9 lines with 163 km of rail are going to be build until 2020. The costs are estimated to be 5.8 trillion KRW. Their main motivation is to increase the model share of rail transport from 8.9 % to 17.1 %. You can find a map of the new lines for Gyeonggi-do here.
Actually, the magic number for Seoul is also 9! I mentioned 10 lines but 1 of them is an extension of Metro Line no. 9. Even though it isn’t a completely new plan, the plan contains still some surprising element: The former mayor of Seoul Oh Se-hoon intended to build seven new lines. After Park Won-soon became mayor of Seoul he postponed the plans, which is usually a sign that they were never supposed to be build. Now the city government published that they are going to build ten new lines. Six of the lines have been in the plans of the former mayor. The line, which was scratched, was the DMC-Line, a 6.5 km tram line from Susaek Station to the World Cup Stadium.
Reasons for New Lines
One of the main arguments for this plan is that the density of subway lines in Seoul should be higher. The density of rail in Seoul is lower than in London, Paris and Tokyo. Besides that, the model share of subway is (only) 36 % (bus 28 %, private vehicles 31 % and 5% others). This measure aims to increase the modal share of public transport to 75%. City officials also said that 38% of Seoul’s area have poor public transport systems.
This is a map with the new lines:
The red lines are the ones, which were already part of the first plan; green lines are new to the plan or there are extensions to the red ones; the dotted purple lines are lines, which are taken into consideration as possibilities after completion of the other lines.
Here’s an overview of the new lines:
|No.||Name of Line||Route||Length (km)|
|1||Sinrim-Line (신림선)||Yeouido to Seoul National University Entrance||8.92|
|2||Dongbuk-Line (동북선)||Wangsimri Station to Sanggye Station||13.34|
|3||Myeongmok-Line (면목선)||Cheongryangri to Sinnaedong||9.05|
|4||Seobu-Line (서부선)||Saejeol to Seoul National University Station||15.77|
|5||Uishinseol Extension-Line (우이신설 연장선)||Uidong to Banghakdong||3.50|
|6||Mokdong-Line (목동선)||Shinwoldong to Dangshin Station||10.87|
|7||Nangok-Line (난곡선)||Boramae-Park to Nanhyangdong||4.13|
|8||Wiryeshin-Line (위례신사선)||Wirye New Town to Sinsa Station
|9||Wirye-Line (위례선)||Bokjeong Station to Machin Station||5.0|
|10||Subway Line no. 9 – Step 4||Bohun-Hospital to Godeokgangil1jlgu||3.80|
One of the most exciting lines is no. 9 on the list: The Wirye-Line is going to be a surface tram. It will look like this:
The new town of Wirye is going to be build southeastern Seoul (near Suseo, the new KTX station). The tram will just run through this new town. The LRT-lines in the list from 1-5 and 7 are going to be completely underground. Even the rail yard is going to be underground! That’s pretty amazing.
Negative Opinions About New Plan
Critics to this plan were expressed in an editorial piece at The Korea Herald. The main critic points are costs and challenge to bus services. Seoul has already high debts and the new lines will cost around 8.5 trillion Won. The investment is going to come from Seoul (45%), national government, private sector and rail operators. Of course, the critic also mentions Yongin and that Yongin’s problem with Everline should be a lesson for Seoul. In my personal opinion, Seoul isn’t Yongin and so the chances for failure are much lower. Every addition to the network inside of Seoul is going to have great benefits for citizens and investors. Seoul confirmed with feasibility studies that all lines are sustainable and necessary.
The next point against the new lines is the challenge to buses, which can indeed happen. However, why should bus services and metro compete against each other? Both are part of the public transport system in Seoul. A better accessibility of public transport through new metro lines means also that there are users transferring from the new lines to buses.
The plan will be finalized in September when Seoul will submit it to the Ministry of Land, Infrastructure and Transport. If they give their OK (including money), then the lines will be built within the next 10 years.