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Monday, December 1, 2014

GTX, meet Sinbundang Line

Among the many railway projects presented one year ahead of the Mayoral elections (see "If you ain't broke, fix it: Seoul, Welfare and Railways Deficits"), the Northeast-Southwest diagonal seems to be reaching a consensus between local administrations and the government*. According to its promoters, the cost could be significantly cut - by KRW 5 trillion! - by using existing railway paths, and by sharing infrastructure between the Sinbundang Line and the GTX-A Line in the heart of Seoul.


According to the latest proposal (see map below), the common Sinbundang-GTX section shall link Dokbawi Station (Line 6 - Bulgwang-dong, Eunpyeong-gu) to Sinsa Station (Line 3 - Sinsa-dong, Gangnam-gu). Little surprise here:
  • As expected, the first station to pop up in Pyeongchang-dong valley is at the Sinyeong-dong Samgeori. I hope the tentative name "Segeomjeong Elementary School" will be shrunk to "Segeomjeong", the closest landmark.
  • As expected, one stop is added in Seochon on the other side of the Jahamun Tunnel, along Jahamun-ro. That's at Kyungbock High School in Cheongun-dong.
  • As expected, the lines stop at the existing stations of Gyeonbokgung, Gwanghwamun, and Seoul Station.
  • But instead of following the Jungang Line via Seobinggo Station (or Dongbinggo) - Ichon Station - Yongsan Station, the section between Seoul Station and Sinsa Station passes by Noksapyeong. I like that, because that's the opportunity to cover a gap in the map. But Noksapyong will be the only station in a stretch that, as the crow flies, takes at least 6 km. If from the GTX perspective, there should be as few stops as possible, it would be completely stupid to build a new railway along this axis without adding at least one stop. I strongly suggest Huam-dong, where a lot of projects are already under way.  Yes building a new station costs a lot, but this is a simple case of urban planning 101, check the map. A connection with the Jungang Line could be also added (for instance at Hannam Station).
At each end of that half-new, 8-station section, GTX and Sinbundang shall go their own ways:
  • From Sinsa Station (South):
    • Shinbundang Line: the extension from Gangnam Station to Sinsa Station, initially planned for 2018 included Nonhyeon and Sinnonhyeon stations (respectively lines 7 and 9). Will it be the case for the subway and not the GTX, or will these connections be scrapped altogether?
    • GTX-A shall reach directly Samseong Station (Line 2): here too, no connection to line 7 and 9. Nice gift for the coex.
  • From Dokbawi Station (North):
    • GTX-A shall reconnect to Line 6 at Yeonsinnae Station, the station next to Dokbawi! Of course, Yeonsinnae is a much bigger hub, also connected to Line 3, but what a contrast with the situation between Seoul Station and Sinsa Station!
    • Shinbundang shall reach Samsong Station (Line 3, Goyang) via two new stations: "Shindo Middle School" and "Jingwan Middle School", at the Western end of Eunpyeong New Town (Gupabal Station at the other end). Shindo lies in the Southern half, at the feet of "Bukhansan Eunpyeong Hanok Maeul", Jingwan in the Northern half. Clearly, the aim is to capture a big chunk of the new town traffic that have saturated Subway Line 3 and Tongil-ro from the beginning (typical example of the poorly planned project - see my previous posts on new towns).
The latest map - Chosun Ilbo 20141202
("신분당선·GTX(수도권 광역급행철도), 鐵路(철로) 같이 쓴다")
Whatever the outcome of this project, it's always fun to see how the various constraints play (topography, urban planning logics, cost, politics, speculation, transportation divide...).

Seoul Village 2014
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*see for instance "서울시 “국토부에 ‘신분당선 서북부 연장선-GTX’ 노선공유 제안”" (DongA Ilbo - 20141126)

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