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New KTX line comes to Gangwon - just in time

Nov 17,2017
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The trip from Seoul to Pyeongchang is expected to get a lot quicker for visitors heading to the 2018 PyeongChang Winter Olympics in February.

For the first time in 44 years, since Taebaek Line first opened in 1973, Gangwon got a new KTX railroad, expected to open in December.

In the past, Gangwon was far from establishing railroad transportation, as the only trip to Gangneung is to take the Mugunghwa train from Cheongnyangni Station, which takes up to five hours and 30 minutes. But once the new KTX Gyeonggang line opens, a trip from Seoul to Gangneung will be reduced to less than two hours.

To make the Gyeonggang line, a total of 34 tunnels and 53 bridges have been built. According to The Korea Transport Institute’s recent demand forecast, the seats in Gyeonggang in are expected to be sold out, as it reduced the travel time significantly to tourist sites on the east coast.

During the Winter Olympics, the Gyeonggang line will be responsible for getting about 20,000 visitors to Pyeongchang and is expected to run 51 times per day. Once the railroad opens, the bullet train is expected to operate at 250 kilometers (155 miles) per hour and is estimated to take at least an hour and a half, including times for stops, to Jinbu Station. From Seoul to Gangneung Station, it will take about an hour and 50 minutes.

Jinbu station is the closest stop from the Olympic Stadium, taking 20 minutes by shuttle.

Visitors driving to the Olympic sites will also save time on the road, as the last section of the highway from Hongcheon to Yangyang, about 71.7 kilometers long, was opened at the end of June. Now, the 150.2 kilometers of highway will offer the shortest travel time from Incheon International Airport to the Olympic venues in Yangyang. From Seoul to Yangyang, it will only take 90 minutes, cutting the travel time by 40 minutes.

While the highway from Seoul to East Hongcheon was completed in 2009, the last section, from East Hongcheon to Yangyang, took nine years to complete. To minimize environmental damage from East Hongcheon to Yangyang, 73 percent of the highway was built with bridges and tunnels.

Since the shorter route from Seoul to Yangyang first opened in June, there has been a seven percent increase from last year in the number of guests visiting Seoraksan National Park and a 30 percent increase in the number of summer vacationers visiting the beach in Sokcho.

Eight different parking lots will be available at Olympic sites. Visitors will have to use the “park and ride system,” where they will take shuttles to Olympic venues. The largest parking lot is located in Daegwallyeong, at 200,000 square meters (49 acres), and is the closest to the Olympic Stadium. It can hold up to 3,600 cars and 290 buses.

Lastly, the second passenger terminal at Incheon Airport will open in mid January, just in time for the Olympics. Costing about 2.3 trillion won ($2.09 billion), the second terminal will allow Incheon Airport to handle up to 72 million travelers. The second terminal will be used by four airline companies - Korean Air, Delta Airlines, Air France and KLM.

In addition, Yangyang International Airport, the closest airport to the Olympic venues, has been newly renovated, expanding the runway and parking ramp, to accommodate bigger planes that are arriving directly at Yangyang International Airport.

BY HAM JONG-SUN, PARK JIN-HO AND KIM WON [kang.yoorim@joongang.co.kr]