The Seoul-Busan axis is Korea’s main traffic corridor. In 1995, it housed 73.3% of Korea’s population, and conducted 70% of the freight traffic and 66% of the passenger traffic. With both the Gyeongbu Expressway and Korail’s Gyeongbu Line congested, the government saw the need of another mode of transport and decided to launch the project in 1989. The first proposals for a second Seoul-Busan railway line originated from a study prepared between 1972 and 1974 by experts of France’s SNCF and Japan Railway Technical Service.
The Daegu–Busan section of the Gyeongbu HSR construction started in June 2002. The 124.2 km long section follows a long curve to the northeast of the existing Gyeongbu Line, with new stations for Gyeongju and Ulsan built well outside of the city centres. With the exception of the sections across Daejeon and Daegu, the second phase went into service on 1November 2010, after an official inauguration held on 28 October 2010.
As someone with a professional interest in the development of high-speed rail in Korea and more generally speaking in Asia, Mr Jean-Pierre Loubinoux was pleased to be invited by official authorities and Korean Railways to participate in this inauguration.
With the opening of the Daegu-Busan section on 1 November, the fastest Seoul–Busan services using all of the Gyeongbu HSR reduce the shortest travel times by 22 minutes to 2 hours 18 minutes. And with the completion of the sections across urban Daejeon and Daegu, a further improvement of the travel time to 2 hours 10 minutes between Seoul and Busan is expected. The section includes 54 viaducts with a total length of 23.4 km and 38 tunnels with a total length of 74.2 km. The two sections across the urban areas of Daejeon and Daegu, altogether 40.9 km, will be finished by 2014, and will reduce the Seoul–Busan travel distance to 417.5 km.
The Seoul-Busan high speed line will largely increase Korea’s overall railway passenger transport capacity by 3.4 times from 18 million passengers per day to 62 million, and its railway freight transport capacity by 7.7 times from 39 million containers per year to 300 million.