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Sunday, August 4, 2013

Seoul LRT Projects Update (Part 1/2)

Here's the promised focus on the 10 Light Rail Transit lines proposed in the revised Seoul Metropolitan Rapid Transit Master Plan*... Or at least the first half (I told you it would take time!):
So. Again, overall, I strongly support the development of new railways across a metropolis that lags behind its global rivals in that most crucial field, and I'm happy to see major holes in the net fixed, but I want to be sure that the right priorities are set, particularly considering Seoul's limited financial resources, and the usual suspicions surrounding grand scale infrastructure projects popping up out of the blue a few months before mayoral elections.

And again, at the macro level, the master plan didn't lay out a clear strategic vision based on the existing situation and the challenges to come, which didn't help challenge the priorities, including at the micro level we're about to investigate now.

Are we missing something? And in case a trade-off were needed, which lines should be kept and which ones should be dumped? I wish I had all the answers and all the elements.

And remember: this is only Seoul's wishlist, n projects at various stages of maturity, not even a final proposal. Don't expect everything to happen.

The full (?) list of future LRT lines: from 7 to 10 (to 13?)

First, two maps (I told you, I love maps). I already showed you the first one, a "before-after" Seoul where each orange dot corresponds to a 10 min. walk around one railway station:

before and after the new lines - about this map, see previous post

The second map presents all the lines I'll list below:

New LRT projects in Seoul
Seoul map with the projected LRT lines: the initial 7 in black, the updated list of 10 in red, a 3 other projects in blue

Here's the revised list of ten LRT projects (starting with the initial list of 7, in black on the map / the last 3 - in italic, in red on the map - have just been added), with their projected daily traffic and length:
  • 7 lines in the initial list (in black on the above map):
    • Dongbuk Line (183,276 users - 13.3 km extended to 14.3)
    • Seobu Line (163,754 users - 15.7 km extended to 19.5)
    • Sillim Line (119,743 users - 8.9 km extended to 10)
    • Myeonmok Line (91,472 users - 9 km)
    • Mok-dong Line (89,587 users - 10.8 km)
    • Nangok Line (54,247 users - 4.1 km)
    • Ui-Sincheol Extension (30,227 users - 3.5 km)
  • 3 new lines (in red on the above map):
    • Wirye-Sinsa Line (168,784 users - 14.8 km)
    • Subway Line 9 Extension (65,159 users - 3.8 km)
    • Wirye (33,081 users - 5 km)

Seoul says 10,000 users are enough to make a line profitable (regardless of its configuration?). Note that for the moment, private investors have already shown interest in two lines: Seobu and Myeonmok.

3 other LRT projects (in blue on the above map) shall be considered 5 years from now, provided the conditions change favorably:

  • A further Subway Line 9 extension: from Godeok-Gangil District 1 to Gangil-dong, Gangdong-gu on the other side of the circular expressway 100, in the westernmost section of Seoul, right before Hanam. Reminder: back in 2010, Subway Line 5 was the one supposed to be prolonged to Hanam (see "Spectacular extensions of Seoul Subway Lines 4-5-6-7 ?")

  • A Hwagok-Hongdae Line that, judging by the sketches, would start from Hongik University Station, cross the DMC along Worldcupbuk-ro, take the Gayang Bridge across the Han river, and follow Hwagok-ro to Hwagok Station (Hawgok-dong, Gangseo-gu), joining subway lines 2, 6, 9, and 5 in the process. It would add a precious vertical link within Southwest Seoul (nothing outside of the Subway Line 2 ring), and bring the western halves of the city closer together (not to mention the DMC and Magok District). While Seoul is at it, why not consider a more ambitious second ring? Expensive, I know, but always keep an eye on the big picture

Now back to this list of 10. I'll start with the longest, the one that fills the biggest hole in Seoul's railway network, and the one I mentioned yesterday (see "Yonsei-ro the first street in Seoul to ban cars in its transportation mix"): Seobu Line. But I cannot do that without mentioning two shorter lines that are connected to it: Sillim and Nangok.

A 3-Tailed Dragon or the Seobu / University Line all the way?

  • If you see the proposed network, 3 new vertical LRT lines are connected to each other, like a 3-Tailed Dragon:
    • Seobu Line - The longest and most structural project: a vertical through Western Seoul (thus the name) that to the North fills the biggest hole in the network (around Eunpyeong-Seodaemun), and to the South cuts halfway between the too distant verticals of lines 2 and 4 (Dongjak-gu, Gwanak-gu). Between the two stretches, Seobu Line crosses Mapo-gu and doubles the horizontal line 9 through the saturated Yeouido hub. In previous plans, the line stopped halfway between Yeouido and Seoul National University Station.
    • Sillim Line - A vertical between Yeouido and Sillim-dong, but more to the west (closer to Line 2, at the Yeongdeungpo-gu / Dongjak-gu border), and reaching deeper to the south, to east-Sillim-dong (Sinwon-dong, Seowon-dong, Seorim-dong, Sillim-dong)
    •  Nangok Line - Around its middle (Boramae Park Station), where the Sillim Line becomes a diagonal, this vertical heads straigth to the south and west-Sillim-dong (Jowon-dong, Miseong-dong, Nangok-dong, Nanyang-dong)

  • Frankly, I don't believe in a "3-Tail LRT Dragon" scenario where all 3 lines (Seobu, Sillim, Nangok) get the nod. Among the possible scenarii:
    • If your priority is to reach SNU (that's a joke), you don't need a Sillim Line, and all you have to do is to add one "Inside SNU" station after Seoul National University Station via Gwanak-ro.
    • If you want to keep only one project, and if you consider that the Sillim Line vertical is less central than Seobu to fill the Line 2 - Line 4 gap, you can keep the Seobu Line all the way to Guam station, finish with the last 3 stations of the Sillim Line to serve Sillim-dong (plus SNU if you insist!) and, to draw a straighter line between both segments, to replace Seoul National Station with Bongcheon Station, and Euncheon Samgeori station with, say, a station at the intersection of Euncheon-ro and Yangmyeong-ro.
    • If you can only afford two lines, you can keep the modified Seobu Line I just described, and a combination of Sillim and Nangok (Yeouido-Boramae Park-Nanyang)

Seobu Line (approximative) list of stations
Seobu Line shall run from Saejeol Station in Eunpyeong-gu to Seoul National University Station in Gwanak-gu (in previous plans, it stopped at Jangseungbaegi Station):
  • Saejeol Station (Subway Line 6) in Sinsa-dong, Eunpyeong-gu: where Gajwa-ro, a major diagonal axis in Seodaemun, crosses Bulgwangcheon
  • Chungamgo Samgeori in Eungam-dong, Eunpyeong-gu (Baengnyeongsa: in front of Choongam High School, at a strategic fork betweeen Gajwa-ro and Baengnyeongsan-ro, which borders the recently erected Eungam New Town. After that, the line continues along Gajwa-ro and turns right at Geobukgol-ro, where it reaches the next station.
  • Myeongji University in Namgajwa-dong, Seodaemun-gu: the first major university on this line (Myeongjidae), with another new new town, Gajwa New Town. Another right angle but to the left this time: the line follows Jeungga-ro, crosses Hongjecheon to reach the center of Yeonhui-dong.
  • Yeonhui in Yeonhui-dong, Seodaemun-gu: at Yeonhui Samgeori (intersection between Jeungga-ro and Yeonhui-ro), near Yeonhui Elementary School. The line takes Yeonhui-ro to the right, then Seongsan-ro to the left.
  • Yonsei University in Sinchon-dong and Changcheon-dong, Seodaemun-gu: at the main gate of the university, in front of Yonsei-ro. About the impacts between this station and the next one (and my wish to see a connection with the Sinchon Station of the Gyeongui Line), read "Yonsei-ro the first street in Seoul to ban cars in its transportation mix".
  • Sinchon Station (Subway Line 2) in Changcheon-dong, Seodaemun-gu and Nogosan-dong, Mapo-gu. University-wise, that's very close to the entrance of Seogang University, and one station away from Hongdae and Ehwa. Note that we just passed 4 new stations since Line 6: if you look back to the "before-after" map, that fills the "white" triangle in Northwest Seoul.
  • Gwangheungchang Station (Subway Line 6) in Seogang-dong, Mapo-gu: we've been following Seogang-ro from Sinchon Rotary, and will continue straight across the Han river to Yeouido under the Seogang Bridge, where the avenue becomes Gukhoe-daero.
  • Seogang Bridge Southern End (Seogangdaegyonamdan Sageori) in Yeoui-dong, Yeongdeungpo-gu: at the intersection of Gukhoe-daero and Yeouiseo-ro. Instead of continuing straight and joining National Assembly Station, the Seobu Line takes Bokeum-gil to the left to draw a parallel to Subway Line 9, both lines cutting Yeouido in 3 almost equal slices.
  • MBC (Munhabangsong ap - Potential connection to Sillim Line?) in Yeoui-dong, Yeongdeungpo-gu: on the other side of the park, we're now on Gukjegeumyung-ro, at the intersection with Yeouinaru-ro, exactly halfway between Yeouinaru and Yeouido stations (Subway Line 5), less than 400 m on each direction on . It would be completely stupid not to make a direct connection with Yeouido Station, which is also on Subway Line 9: a simple corridor would do. But there is also a potential connection with the future Sillim Line (LRT), in case both are built. Note that 3 years ago, no connection was planned and that was quite a shock.
  • Yeouido St.Mary's Hospital in Yeoui-dong, Yeoui-gu: at the Catholic University of Korea hospital, where Gukjegeumyung-ro meets Yeouidong-ro.
  • Noryangjin Station (Subway Lines 1, 9) in Noryangjin-dong, Dongjak-gu: beyond the old fish market, a significant transportation hub, even if Seoul city has sidelined Noryangjin New Town. The line heads south, following Jangseungbaegi-ro, drawing a vertical line halfway between Subway Line 2 and Subway Line 4.
  • Jangseungbaegi Station (Subway Line 7) in Sangdo-dong, Dongjak-gu: typically, line 7 runs for 7 stations between line 2 and line 4 without meeting any other line, and Jangseungbaegi is the one in the middle.
  • Sinsangdo in Sangdo-dong, Dongjak-gu: that's the intersection of Jangseungbaegi-ro and Yangnyeong-ro, which the Seobu line will follow after that.
  • Guam in Bongcheon-dong, Gwanak-gu: more precisely at the intersection of Euncheon-dong, and Seonghyeon-dong, an area densely populated, on the other side of the Yangnyeong Tunnel. The line then takes Euncheon-ro to the left.
  • Euncheon Samgeori in Bongcheon-dong, Gwanak-gu: at the intersection of Euncheon-ro and Gwanak-ro (between Seonghyeon-dong, Jungang-dong, and Haengun-dong). The line takes Gwanak-ro to the right.
  • Seoul National University Station (Subway Line 2) in Bongcheon-dong, Gwanak-gu: on the stretch of 6 stations between Daerim and Sadang, Bongcheon Station would have been more central.

Sillim Line (approximative) list of stations
Sillim Line shall run from Yeouido to Nanhyang-dong:

  • MBC (Projected station - Seobu Line) in Yeoui-dong, Yeongdeungpo-gu: see above
  • Saetgang Station (Subway Line 9) in Yeoui-dong, Yeongdeungpo-gu: where the line used to start before someone realized it would be interesting to connect the line with Seobu. The line takes Yeouidaebang-ro, towards South-Southwest.
  • Daebang Station (Subway Line 1) in Daebang-dong, Dongjak-gu: at the intersection with Noryangjin-ro.
  • Seongnam Middle & High School in Singil-dong, Yeongdeungpo-gu and Daebang-dong, Dongjak-gu
  • Boramae Station (Subway Line 7) in Singil-dong, Yeongdeungpo-gu and Daebang-dong, Dongjak-gu
  • Boramae Park (LRT Nangok Line?) in Sindaebang-dong, Dongjak-gu: at the park and hospital. That's where Nangok Line is supposed to start. The Sillim Line heads to the East along Bongcheon-ro.
  • Danggok Sageori in Boramae-dong and Sillim-dong, Gwanak-gu: the intersection with Sillim-ro, which the line will take towards South
  • Sillim Station (Subway Line 2) in Sillim-dong, Gwanak-gu: the Sillim line will reach for the serpentine Dorimcheon
  • Dorimcheon in Seowon-dong and Seorim-dong, Gwanak-gu: near the second Sillim Bridge.
  • Sillim-ro near Sinseong Elementary School in Seorim-dong and Daehak-dong, Gwanak-gu: back to Sillim-ro, heading in the direction of SNU. On the other side of Dorimcheon starts Hoam-ro, along which Sillim New Town is under construction. Hoam-ro leads to Nangok-ro and Nanhyang-dong, where the Nangok Line ends. A potential Sillim Loop Line?
  • Seoul National University main gate in Sillim-dong, Gwanak-gu: main gate, at the intersection with Gwanak-ro.

Nangok Line (approximative) list of stations
Nangok Line shall run from Boramae Park to Nanyang-dong:

  • Boramae Park (LRT Sillim Line?) in Sindaebang-dong, Dongjak-gu: see above
  • Sindaebang Station (Subway Line 2) in Sindaebang-dong, Dongjak-gu and Sinsa-dong, Gwanak-gu: the line follows Nangok-ro
  • Nangok Sageori in Miseong-dong, Gwanak-gu: intersection with Munseong-ro
  • Nangok-dong in Nangok-dong, Gwanak-gu: the heart of a small valley of Gwanaksan.
  • Nanhyang-dong in Gwanak-gu: a cluster of apartments, and if you continue, Huam-ro, Sillim New Town (see above) 

Seoul Village 2013
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* see "'서울 어디서나 도시철도 10분' - 철도 중심시대가 열립니다" ( 20130725)

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