Monday, June 13, 2011

3 subway lines projects revived ?

Private developers keep lobbying in favor of three subway projects that could be delivered by 2017.

POSCO Engineering & Construction wants to revive the old project of backbone between the capital's Northern and Southern centers : this 11.47 km line between Gyeongbokgung Station (Line 3) and Gangnam Station (Line 2) would pass by Gwanghwamun Station (Line 5), City Hall (Lines 1 and 2), Sinhannam Station, Nonhyeon Station (Line 7), and Sinbanpo Station (Line 9). The line would not connect with Line 6 even if, judging by the map, I would pass not far from Hangangjin Station. I guess they plan to dig much deeper under Namsan : the Sinhannam Station is down the valley, closer to Hannam Bridge and Hannam New Town. It doesn't look connected with Hannam Station (Jungang Line).

We've already mentioned* the second project. Led by Doosan Construction, it would link Yongsan with Gangnam (7.49 km), and ultimately the new Bundang Line (Sinbundang line, 18.5 km : Gangnam, Yangjae, Poi, Cheonggye, Pangyo, Jeongja). The stations would be Yongsan (Lines 1 and 4), Ichon / National Museum, Dongbingo, Sinsa (Line 3), Nonhyeon (Line 7), Sinnonhyeon (line 9), and Gangnam. But should the other project fly, a connection could be made at Sinhannam, and the connection at Sinsa could be dropped.

The third project ? Posco's Plan B would combine the Gangnam-Sinhannam section of the first project with a Gwanghwamun - Yongsan line (8 stations overall).

All projects have in common a relatively low number of new stations. The idea is more to connect major existing hubs. A Gyeongbokgung-Gangnam-Bundang axis would probably become Seoul's biggest vertical backbone, saving time but also sucking traffic from other lines, which are not operated by the same companies : Korail manages lines 1 to 4, Seoul Metro lines 5 to 8, Veolia Transport line 9. Neeless to say, promoters of the Sinbundang line, Bundang, Pangyo, or Hannam landowners, not to mention Samsung, headquartered at Gangnam Station, would love to prolong it towards the other side of Han river and the city center, mirroring the Bundang Line prolongation from Seollung towards Seongdong-gu, further to the East.

I hope these projects are not in the balance with actual priorities : all the Seoul neighborhoods that remain out of the grid. But should this Gyeongbokgung-Gangnam be built, I'd rather go for a fourth project :
- The Gyeongbokgung-Gwanghwamun-City hall axis is very relevant and actually follows the country's most defining line : Sejongdaero. Furthermore, downtown's grid lacks a vertical line West of Line 3 (which also connects lines 1 to 5 within 3 consecutive stations : Jongno-3-ga, Uljiro-3-ga, Chungmuro). So I'd keep this vital section.
- From City Hall, I would not try to reach Yongsan Station. I know the Yongsan IBD project needs to be better interfaced with the rest of the city, but if a new subway line were to cross the river, it'd better fill some gaps in the network rather than double existing lines.
- A new vertical line South of Namsan between Lines 3 and 4 makes perfect sense. But if you want to reach Gangnam, connections must be made with all the lines you cross on the way : Jungang Line (at Hannam / Sinhannam), Line 3 (at Sinsa), and Line 6.
- Preferably, new stations should be added in the process. But promoters are selling shorter connections between Gangnam and Downtown, and each stop adds an average 2 mn (not to mention significant increases in CAPEX and OPEX). My minimum scenario (straight line) : City Hall/Hangangjin/Hannam. My maximum scenario (curve) : City Hall / Huam-dong / Noksapyeong / Yongsan Park (now Yongsan Army Base, which is bound to move after 2017) / Dongbingo-dong or Bogwang-dong / Hannam.

Seoul Village 2011
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* see "
Yongsan-Gangnam-Bundang subway completed in 2017"

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