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Sunday, December 26, 2021

7 Seoul subway / railway updates

MK published yesterday an interesting article* on the impact of 7 recent or upcoming subway / railway developments on real estate, which allows us to see of these old friends have fared since their announcements**.

The Maeil Kyeongje's 7 projects (NB our focus below doesn't follow these numbers)

 . Line 1 extension Northwards from Soyosan Station (3 new stations - Choseong-ri, Jeongok, and Yeoncheon): 

Since this extension mostly doubles an existing train, the article logically mentions a low impact on real estate. but it does make commuting more seamless for densely inhabited parts of Yeoncheon-gun, and allows Seoulites to venture further up the Dongducheon valley (not necessarily closer to the DMZ, though: it follows the same axis in this area).

 . Line 4 extension Eastwards from Danggogae Station (3 new stations - Byeollae Byeolgaram, Onam, and Jinjeop):

To be inaugurated next March, this 14.9 km extension is a game changer for this section of Namyangju dotted with major new towns (Byeollae and Jinjeop-eup). But as usual, what a shame that such major clusters were not connected to the grid from day one. 

Of course, this means more commuter traffic for a line already supporting older generation bed towns, but it will also help one of them, Nowon, grow as a cultural hub in Northeast Seoul. Furthermore, the article reminds us of two other projects that will help cope with the flow:

  • Seoul considers doubling Line 4 with an express service for the 31.7 km section within city limits, between Danggogae and Namtaeryeong, with potentially 12 more stations concerned (all the ones connected to other lines). That would leave 12 stations with only the standard service, along with the ones in Gyeonggi-do.
  • The extension of Line 8 Northwards from Amsa Station to Byeollae Station (Gyeongchun Line) by the end of 2023 could later be prolonged to Byeollae Byeolgaram Station via a new station, Byeollae Jungang, further anchoring Byeollae to the South, and making it a transport hub east of Seoul around a decent 'Byeollae Line' backbone.

 . Inauguration of Namwirye Station (Line 8):

Located between Bokjeong and Sanseong Stations in Seongnam, Namwirye doesn't really support Wirye New Town which, as the author mentions, would have much more impact. But he's not taking into account a tramway bound to deliver the goods: the construction of the Wirye Line is just starting these days.

'#Seoul about to start the construction of its first #tramway in decades (#WiryeLine - 12 stations, 5.4 km - to open i 2025). Line announced 8 years ago ( #transports' (20211220 - @theseoulvillage)

 . Gyeongui Jungang Line extension Northeastwards from Imjingang Station to Dorasan Station

In this part of Paju, as the article confirms, 'nothing to do with real estate'. This line is simply inching further towards Kaesong, now a reasonable walk away... provided of course you've got all the papers to enter the DMZ at that most strategic point. For the moment, you're mostly connecting Seoul to a giant, empty parking lot: doesn't look like many workers will commute any time soon to the Kaesong Industrial Complex... Let's hope that some day, this dead end will be prolonged into a friendlier North Korea.

 . Seohae Line extension Northwards from Sosa Station to Wonjong Station (via Bucheon Stadium Station)

As we've already seen (in "Twice upon a time in the West"), there's a lot going on around Bucheon. This vertical will split much earlier the traffic to/from Seoul between the North (Line 1) and the South (Line 7). And it will later be prolonged not only to Gimpo Airport, but also across the river, to Line 3 (Daegok Station, after a stop in Neunggok Station).

If Daegok seems a bit isolated between Goyang's 'old and new' New Towns (Ilsan to the West, Hwajeong to the East), Line 3 leads to more glamorous sites: downtown Seoul and Gangnam. And I wouldn't be surprised to see this new, vertical airport line that will go from Goyang to Hwaseong (for now, Ansan remains the Southern limit) venture further to the North-Northeast and connect to more New Towns.

 . Sillim Line inauguration (from Gwanaksan Station to Saetgang Station)

Thanks to this precious new vertical connected to Line 9 (Saetbang), Line 1 (Daebang), Line 7 (Boramae), Line 2 (Sillim), 'I live in Bongcheon-dong' will sound a lot more uplifting. But in parallel to this LRT,  Western Seoul needs more verticals (Gangnam-gu already getting it's fourth!), starting with Seobu Line...

 . Shinbundang Line Northwards extension from Gangnam Station to Sinsa Station:  

The article made its headline on the star extension because it's about real estate and money, and we're talking expensive real estate (Gangnam-daero), and expensive stations: Gangnam on Line 2, Sinnonhyeon on Line 9, Nonhyeon on Line 7, and Sinsa-dong on Line 3. No new stations, but hopefully fewer cars on the Hannam Bridge once Sinbundang's next profitable extension to the North will lead across the river and Yongsan, all the way to Yongsan Station.


Beyond railway and subway projects, Maeil Kyeongje also mentioned work on more sections of the capital region's Second Ring Expressway, which will definitely have some impact. But what the region needs is more public transportation, and a better dialog within Gyeonggi-do, beyond the usual Seoul-suburbs dialog.

It's always good to connect existing dots, and the Ansan-Bucheon-Goyang axis is very welcome, but no new major urban projects should be allowed without a direct connection to the network.

The problem is that Gyeonggi-do is poorly managed, and this has something to do with the way big cities compete with each other without a real regional authority. Only the State has the potential to force some collaboration, or at least more coopetition and less competition within Gyeonggi-do. The lack of political will and strategic vision results in the multiplication of projects cannibalizing each other, a suicidal rat race as the population ages and declines. Clearly, there are countless ways of spending less, better, and still generating much more value for everyone.

Seoul Village 2021
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* ""딱 역 3개인데, 폭발력 엄청나다"…판교 분당 부동산 난리난 이유" (Maeil Business Newspaper 20211226)
** see "Seoul subway to gain 89 km by 2025" (June 2015), "Seoul LRT Projects Update (Part 1/2)" and "Seoul LRT Projects Update (Part 2/2)" (August 2013, following "If you ain't broke, fix it: Seoul, Welfare and Railways Deficits" - July 2013). See also all subway related posts.

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