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Monday, February 15, 2010

Subway news : Sillim line, Line 3...

Next month, Seoul will decide among the two finalists (NamSeoul Light Rail Ltd and Yeouido Sillim Light Rail Co., Ltd.) the winning consortium for its future Yeouido-Sillim (여의도-신림) Light Rapid Transit line. Construction shall start in 2012 for an inauguration in 2017 and by then, a complete Southwest - Northwest Seoul connection should be operational : other LRT sections are planned between Eunpyeong-gu (ie Eungam-dong) and Yeouido via Seodaemun-gu (ie Yeonhui-dong).

This new line will start from Gwanak-gu and Seoul National University, but at the very gates, not at the existing station. It will follow Dorimcheon, the stream serpenting across Sillim-dong which give the area a unique charm, and head North towards Yeouido (Saetgang Station, Line 9) via Sillim Station (Line 2), Boramae Park (Line 7) and Daebang Station (Railway).

Overall : 7.82 km and 10 stations including 6 brand new ones. That will add some verticality badly needed by a network that's desperately horizontal in this part of the Capital (only Line 4 is heading straigth South, but that's East of Gwanaksan).

If this line makes perfect sense, I'm not sure Sillim-dong can keep the unique charm I mentioned earlier : high buildings are step by step masking the exceptional natural site around Dorimcheon (please preserve the hills !), and a major cluster will bloom along Hoam-gil on the way to Geumcheon-gu : Sillim New Town. I'm sure the place will be much more popular and more fun in 2017, but it probably won't be the same...

More immediate changes ? Line 3 is about to inaugurate 3 new stations this Thursday, February 18th, 2010. Instead of finishing in Gangnam-gu at Suseo Station (Bundang Line), the orange line will cross Songpa-gu (Garak-dong and Ogeum-dong) :
- connection with Line 8 at Garak Market Station
- new station : National Police Hospital
- connection with Line 5 (a line already met at Jongno-3-ga Station) at Ogeum Station

This extention confirms the importance of the Seongnam-Gangnam corridor, but instead of just commuting, why not visit the Garak wholesale market ? Definitely less cute than your local traditional market (except maybe for informal merchants at the entrance), but quite impressive : the merchandise is more often exposed in bulk than packaged, and depending on the season you can see whole hangars filled with onions or watermelons.

That said, yet, what we got here is yet another line stopping short of entering Hanam... Line 9 seems in a better position to do so (via Gambu-dong), unless Line 5 prolongs via Macheon-dong or Mangwol-dong. The other end of Line 3 has a brighter perspective, for beyond Goyang (today's terminus : Daehwa-dong, KINTEX), and towards West Paju.

Seoul Village 2010

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