|President Yoon Suk-yeol speaks during a policy debate on transport issues held at Uijeongbu City Hall, 22 kilometers north of Seoul, on Jan. 25, 2024./ Source: Presidential Office Joint Press Corps
By AsiaToday reporter Jeong Ah-reum
The South Korean government on Thursday unveiled a plan to expand the Great Train Express (GTX) high-speed train lines covering parts of Gangwon Province and South Chungcheong Province, in order to drastically reduce commute times for residents in the greater Seoul area. It will also establish the “x-TX” high-speed trains for other regions in the country. It also plans to move surface-level tracks underground for some highway sections in the greater Seoul area with heavy traffic.
President Yoon Suk-yeol announced the plan during a government-public debate on people’s livelihood issues, recalling his campaign pledge to reduce the commute between Seoul and the surrounding area to the 30-minute range.
“The quality of the commute is directly linked to the quality of life,” Yoon said. “We will open the GTX era in earnest starting this year, allowing other cities in the country enjoy the GTX services.”
The government plans to reduce commute times by half for residents by launching the GTX project in the Seoul metropolitan area. To this end, it decided to partially open GTX Line A connecting Suseo and Dongtan in the end of March, and open GTX Line A connecting Paju and Seoul Station in the end of the year. The full-fledged opening of GTX Line A, traversing Seoul to connect Paju with Pyeongtaek is to be completed by 2028. Commuters in Paju who spends about 54 to 70 minutes on average for their commute to Seoul Station now, will only spend 20 minutes once the GTX Line A is completed.
Construction of the B line, connecting Incheon’s Songdo and Namyangju in Gyeonggi Province, will kick off early this year and will be open in 2030. The C line, running between Yangju, northern Gyeonggi Province, and Suwon, southern Gyeonggi Province, will begin in 2028. Those in Incheon would be able to travel to Seoul Station in 30 minutes from the current 80 minutes, and those in Yangju would be able to travel to Samsung Station in 29 minutes from the current 75 minutes, enabling the 30-minute commute. The GTX project plan focusing on extending the existing A, B, and C lines and introducing new lines D, E, and F will be accelerated. The new D line will link Incheon, Gimpo, Namyangju and Wonju, while the E line connecting Incheon, Seoul Gangbuk, Guri, and Namyangju. The F line will be a Metropolitan Area Circulation Line.
In provincial metropolitan areas, the similar initiative called the x-TX project will be promoted. First of all, the government plans to select a leading project for the metropolitan railway linking Daejeon, Sejong, Chungcheong and Chungju Airport and push ahead with the project. Underground highway project will also be launched in earnest. It will make frequently congested sections of highways near Seoul underground starting from 2026.