Seoul Station / South Korea


3983 Urban regeneration project around Seoul Station. Source: High Speed and the City, UIC final report 2010.

The South Korean rail system:

**Organisational structure of the railways

3983 Korean Railways are divided into two main bodies - UIC 2013

2013 reform:

On 26 June 2013, the Korean government announced that the Korean rail system was to be restructured and a holding company formed, with three subsidiaries:

  • KTX for high speed services from 2014.
  • A freight subsidiary in 2015.
  • A maintenance subsidiary in 2015.
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South Korean high speed network. Source: High Speed and the City, UIC final report 2010.

The restructuring includes the part-privatisation (51 %) of the South Korean railways.

**The South Korean rail network

The South Korean rail network comprises a total of 3378 route km; 39 % of lines are double-track, though only 49.5% are electrified. The network is built to standard gauge.
High speed rail is a relatively recent appearance on the South Korean rail network, services having launched in 2004.

The history of the railways has been dominated by the private sector, and most of the network was built under the Japanese occupation.

Governance and financing of South Korean stations


  • Ownership of station buildings: Korail.
  • Ownership of tracks, platforms, escalators, etc.: KR.


  • Financing of construction and renovation of stations: South Korean government and private sector.
  • Financing of operating costs of stations: subsidies, station access charges, and retail activity.

Renovation policy for stations in South Korea

Work building the South Korean high speed network began in 1992 with the line from Seoul to Busan; the Korean High Speed Rail Construction Authority (KHSRCA) was founded the same year to manage infrastructure construction projects, but also to renovate the major termini which would in future be served by high speed services.

The initial budget was ₩10740000000000, an amount which increased by 81 % the following year. The network grew gradually, only culminating in 2004, when the KTX ran in revenue service for the first time.

There have been many projects to renovate South Korean stations, for example Busan, Daejon, Mokpo and Seoul.

Case study, Seoul Station

Geographical context Distance between main airport / station Station’s position on railway network:
3983 Seoul is a densely populated city with 10,464,061 inhabitants.
It is the economic capital of South Korea.
Urban context: central.
At the heart of a dense urban fabric.
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Regional train: Incheon International Airport – Seoul station: 53 minutes
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South Korean high speed network. Source: High Speed and the City, UIC final report 2010.

The station is the gateway to South Korea, and the major point of entry to the high speed network.

Seoul Station, key figures and accessibility:

Construction year: 1922 Number of metro lines: 1
Date of last renovation: 2004 Number of regional lines: 1
Total station surface area: 240,023 m². Number of bus routes: 6
Number of passengers / day: 100,000 passengers/day Number of metro stations with direct services from station: 27
Number of visitors / day: 1,000,000 visitors Number of public car parks: 600 parking spaces
Retail space: 31,854m². Cost of parking near station: 6.6 euros/day
Number of retail outlets: 52 Parking surface area: -
Restaurant space in station: - m² Cost of cycle hire: -
Infrastructure manager: KR. Presence of checkpoints in station: yes
Operator: Korail. Transfer time in station: - minutes.
Number of tracks in station: 14, including 7 dedicated to HS traffic

Number of trains / day: - trains (106 high speed)

Accessibility by mode:-

History of Seoul Station:

The first station was a 33 m² wooden building built in 1900 to coincide with the opening of the northern extension of the Gyeongin line.

The building was later destroyed and was replaced by what is now considered the “historical” part of Seoul Station. The newest part of this building is much more modern than the old, and was completed in 1957 by merging all the annexes of the old part.
For the 1988 Seoul Olympics, private investors funded an extension of the station, building the first purely private terminal.

Renovation of Seoul Station:

Progress status: ongoing

_ Duration: 2004- 2014


  • 2004: Station redesigned for the arrival of high speed services.
  • 2009-2014:

  1. Renovation of old part of station.
  2. Make the station an urban and commercial hub.

_ Financing: South Korean government and private sector.

  • Stakeholders:
  • Korail.
  • KR.
  • South Korean government.
  • City of Seoul.
  • Private investors.
Conclusion / expected outcome:

  • New opening hours: 05:10 – 23:00
  • New capacity: -
  • New surface area: 240,023 m².
  • New retail surface area: 55,832 m²
  • New situation within city: better connections with other urban transport networks.
  • Level of automation in station: 50%

New equipment:

  • New high speed terminal.
  • Modernisation of old part of station.
  • Better integrate station into the urban environment.

Description of station renovation project:

The station has been renovated in two major stages:

1. Station renovated in preparation for the arrival of high speed services. Changes were made converting the station from a conventional terminus to a high speed station.

This stage split the railway section into two parts.

  • Old part: including the old station building, this part would henceforth host customer service, ticket sales, and other services.
  • Dedicated high speed part: the rest of the station would receive high speed services, and the space would be redesigned to cope with greater passenger numbers.

This renovation significantly boosted the station’s capacity and introduced a tailored range of new services and retail activities.

Year Name of station Service area Parking surface area Retail space
1989-2004 Seoul Railway Station (privately-funded) 9,448.40 5,173.00 16,612.81
2004-present Seoul High Speed Railway Station 15,910.74 20,499.15 55,832.91

2. The second stage of renovation concentrated more on the old part of the station.

3983 Renovation of the old part of Seoul station.

This renovation had various goals:

  • Restore the historic station building, which had not undergone any renovation since being built.
  • Boost intermodality at the station by improving access to other modes of transport.
  • Align the station renovation project with wider urban planning aims, improving the station’s integration into the surrounding urban environment.

The renovation of the old station building, which no longer served its original purpose since the construction of the new high speed terminus in 2004.
Starting in 2009, renovation work has transformed it into a cultural centre comprising a multi-purpose exhibition and performance venue.

The station’s conversion is part of an urban renewal project centring on the area north of the station. The locus of this project is the renovation of the central station, which now forms the focal point of this area.
The new urban complex will comprise an international congress centre, hotels, housing, offices, public space, etc.

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Urban regeneration project around Seoul Station. Source: High Speed and the City, UIC final report 2010.