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Effect on Expansion of Regional and Urban Railways and Strategy of Seoul Government

Hyuk Ryul YoonㆍYoungbeom kim

Recently road congestion, environmental concerns, energy usage and resource depletion due to the increasing number of automobiles has meant that the attention on and importance of railroads are at an all time high. To reduce commute times and improve metropolitan transportation, the government is planning to expand the number of regional railways that serve new cities’ transportation needs while continuing to support current urban railways in a balanced development plan based on creating efficient infrastructure. 
At this time many of the railways that were previously planned have actually been implementing while many of the rail projects being pursued currently will be completed in the next 10 years and affect existing operating Seoul railways and buses. These railway projects, which will open before 2030, are expected to increase the number of railway passengers by about 2 million. As a result, it is expected that the city’s public transportation system will change drastically in the next 10 to 20 years. In particular, the GTX (Great Train Express) will produce a paradigm shift that will bring about major changes to the metropolitan transportation system beyond simple improvements to transportation facilities and will completely change the existing public transportation system in Seoul. 
If the number of railways in the Seoul metropolitan area is continuously increased, transportation problems in this area can be solved, but the existing Seoul public transportation system, which must finally accommodate the demand for additional railway capacity will have a critical impact, such as increased congestion. While accommodating the additional demands on the railway system, it is expected that the infrastructure will have to accommodate various problems caused by the current congestion and the design of a single stations due to the laws and guidelines that relate to existing facilities in Seoul. Restrictions that exist due to the planning of current stations and routes not reflecting their usage levels. The biggest problem faced is simply the “average peak rate”, which is a result of the underlying design of the current subway lines, being able to meet the peak demand. At this time the characteristics of each station, such as the level of congestion or level of station facilities, were not considered in their initial planning. In addition, the system has problems with efficiency and operation as it was designed without properly considering the adequacy and operation problems of extensions to the urban railway. What is more when planning additions to the urban railway network due consideration must be given to overlapping, existing public transportation services, such as buses.
This study comprehensively summarizes the Seoul Metropolitan Government's policies related to railways in terms of the public transportation system and analyzes the problems that are occurring during the current operation of urban railroads and related factors. The city government’s presented ideas should be considered and implemented before it is too late for the Seoul Metropolitan Government to build the railway network of the future. However, as railroad policy is pushed ahead faster than expected, the Seoul Metropolitan Government has yet to make a detailed review of the aforementioned points, which is likely to cause more problems in the future. Accordingly, the Seoul Metropolitan Government should organize its countermeasures and plan in detail the future direction of development to meet the growing needs of our public transportation system.