On a small peninsula just over 100,000 square kilometers in area, Korea’s vastly extensive railways have made domestic flying a virtually unnecessary expense and hassle.
Since 2005, the country’s railways have been dominated by Korail, which has been running competition-free over the past decade. However, all that is set to change on Dec. 9.
On Friday, travellers will find themselves with an alternative option, as Korea welcomes its newest contender to railway and bullet train travel — SR.
“Finally 2016 will mark the start of the ‘customers can make a selection’ generation when it comes to taking the train,” wrote SR CEO Kim Bok-hwan online.
“SR is opening up the future by offering safer, more reliable and more comfortable trains to the Korean railway industry,” Kim added.
The new rail company is not only offering guests an alternative high-speed train service, but also offering riders cheaper prices and shorter travel times with its SRT (super rapid trains) and utilization of the Yulhyun Tunnel — South Korea’s longest tunnel and the world’s third longest with a length stretching more than 50 kilometers.
Although SR does not currently offer anywhere near the extensive destinations of Korail’s KTX trains, the new railway company will operate trains to many of the country’s most popular travel destinations including Seoul, Busan, Daegu, Daejeon and Gwangju. The train also makes stops in Yongin, Dongtan and Pyeongtaek’s Jije Station.
The railway’s Seoul train station is Suseo Station, located in the Gangnam district, eliminating the need for those residing or staying in hotels south of the Han River or near the Gangnam and Seocho districts to make the long trek to Seoul Station in downtown Seoul .
SRT train ticket prices are on average 10 per cent cheaper than those offered by Korail. The service also offers shaved travel time. From Seoul to Busan, SR operates a direct service, including two stops along the way, that will only take riders 2 hours and 9 minutes for 52,200 won, compared to the KTX’s 2-hour 34-minute train priced at 59,800 won.
The new super rapid trains offer guests ample legroom in both the first-class and economy cabins, shared power outlets for laptop or phone chargers and a pleasant interior design.
For international travellers, travelling with SR not only shortens one’s riding time, but departing and arriving at Suseo’s more compact station — compared to the crowded and large Seoul Station — will be less of a struggle.
The Suseo SR train station can be reached via subway Line 3 and the Bundang Line. For more information, visit www.srail.co.kr.