The Gyeongjeon Line (Gyeongjeonseon) is a railway line serving South Gyeongsang and South Jeolla Provinces in South Korea. It covers a total of 300.6 km, from Samnangjin Station in Miryang, South Gyeongsang, to Gwangju·Songjeong Station in Gwangju, South Jeolla.
An east-west railway along Korea's southern shore was long seen as a strategic route, but it took a number of attempts to complete the line. The first section of the line was opened as a branch from the newly built Gyeongbu Line at Samnangjin to Masan in May 1905, which was named the Masan Line. On December 1, 1923, the Jinju Line opened from Masan to Jinju, extending the line to 110.2 km (68.5 mi). A branch from Changwon on the Masan Line to Jinhae, the Jinhae Line, opened on November 11, 1926.
Meanwhile, construction started in the opposite direction from Songjeong-ri (today Gwangju·Songjeong) on the Honam Line, the other end of the future Gyeongjeon Line, with the first 14.9 km (9.3 mi) to Gwangju opened in July 1922. The 155.5 km (96.6 mi) Gwangju Line was completed to Yeosu on December 25, 1930. Six years later, on December 16, 1936, the Suncheon–Yeosu section became part of the newly established Jeolla Line, leaving the 134.6 km (83.6 mi) long Songjeong-ri–Suncheon section as the Gwangju Line.
Following the 1961 coup, the Supreme Council for National Reconstruction started South Korea's first five-year plan, which included a construction program to complete the railway network, to foster economic growth. As part of the program, work began on a line to plug the gap between Jinju and Suncheon on April 28, 1962. The difficult 80.5 km (50.0 mi) long section included 38 bridges with a total length of 1,697 m (5,568 ft) and 27 tunnels with a total length of 7.67 km (4.77 mi), as well as 13 new stations. The Jeoju–Suncheon line opened on February 7, 1968, when the whole 325.2 km (202.1 mi) railway line from Samnangjin to Songjeong-ri was renamed the Gyeongjeon Line. By the mid-2000s, alignment modifications shortened the line length to 300.6 km (186.8 mi).
The line is being upgraded to an electrified and double-tracked line for 180 km/h in stages, to facilitate regional development. On September 1, 2010, the South Korean government announced a strategic plan to reduce travel times from Seoul to 95% of the country to under 2 hours by 2020. As part of the plan, the entire Gyeongjeon Line is to be further upgraded for 230 km/h.
The upgraded section will be 101.4 km long. The 41 km section until Masan includes a re-alignment with tunnels closer to Changwon, the Masan–Jinju section also includes significant re-alignments along the way.
By April 2009, construction progress reached 50.9% of the planned budget of 2,018.782 billion won. The project is implemented as a public-private partnership: the government contribution is 1,680.473 billion won, private capital contributes 338.309 billion won. The Samnangjin-Masan section opened on December 15, 2010. The entire project is foreseen for completion in 2011.
A new 44.8 km (27.8 mi) long branch from Hallimjeong Station is to improve freight transport connections to Busan's expanded port. The line proper to Busan New Port Station is 38.8 km (24.1 mi) long, followed by 6.0 km (3.7 mi) of port access tracks. By April 2009, progress was 80.7% out of a total budget of 902.384 billion won. The line was opened and the first freight train travelled the line on December 13, 2010.
A planned new direct connection from Busan will meet up with the realigned Gyeongjeon Line at Jillye. The 32.6 km long double track cutoff is expected to be finished by 2017 with a budget of 1,396.15 billion won. The project is to be implemented with private finance, the preferred bidder for the franchise was selected in July 2010. This line is foreseen for an upgrade to 230 km/h under the government's 2010 plan for 2020.
Work started in 2003 on a 56.1 km long section between Jinju and Gwangyang. By March 2010, progress was 19% out of a budget of 1,005.984 billion won. This section includes significant re-alignments with longer tunnels and bridges. The upgrade works also commenced at the junction with the Jeolla Line east of Suncheon. Electrification is to reach Suncheon by 2014.
Additionally, there are plans for a freight branch from Gwangyang to Gwangyang Port.
Between Hyocheon and Songjeong-ri, to relieve congestion at road crossings in the city, the Gyeongjeon Line got a new alignment bypassing Gwangju to the south. The section of the old alignment between Songjeong-ri and Gwangju was upgraded as a 11.9 km (7.4 mi) spur line, again called the Gwangju Line, while the 10.8 km (6.7 mi) section between Hyocheon and Gwangju, including Namgwangju Station, was torn up. The realignments opened on August 10, 2000.
From Boseong, a new cutoff branch is to connect with the Honam Line at Imseong-ri, just before Mokpo. Construction of the 79.5 km long branch commenced in 2002, however, work was suspended in the middle of the 2000s for lack of funds. As of 2010, the project is on hold after having progressed to 5.5% of the 1,297.924 billion won budget. This branch would include the 5,960 m long Jangdong Tunnel northeast of Jangheung.
The rest of the Suncheon-Gwangju section is foreseen for upgrading in a new alignment under the government's 2010 plan for 2020.
In South Gyeongsang:
- Samnangjin Station, Miryang, junction with the Gyeongbu Line
- Changwon Station, Changwon, terminus of the Jinhae Line
- Masan Station, Masan
- Jinju Station, Jinju
- Hadong Station, Hadong County
In South Jeolla:
- Gwangyang Station, Gwangyang, terminus of the planned Gwangyang Port branch
- Suncheon Station, Suncheon, junction with the Jeolla Line
- Beolgyo Station, Boseong County
- Boseong Station, Boseong County, terminus of a planned line to Mokpo
- Gwangju·Songjeong Station, Gwangju, junction with the Honam Line and terminus of the Gwangju Line branch to Gwangju Station
The line is served by passenger and freight trains. As of October 2010, from Bujeon Station in Busan, cross-country Mugunghwa-ho trains travel in a minimum 1 hour 25 minutes to Masan, 2 hour 55 minutes to Jinju, 4 hours 20 minutes to Suncheon, 6 hours 33 minutes to Gwangju·Songjeong, and 7 hours 34 minutes to Mokpo. Direct intercity Saemaul-ho trains also connect Seoul to Masan in around 5 hours, while the travel time with transfer from KTX high-speed trains at Miryang is as short as 3 hours 15 minutes.
KTX service from Seoul to Masan started with KTX-II trains on December 15, 2010, with Seoul–Masan travel times between of 2 hours 54 minutes and 2 hours 59 minutes, depending on the stopping pattern. The service started with 14 daily trains on weekdays and 24 on weekends (Friday to Sunday), with standard class Seoul–Masan tickets costing 47,400 won on weekdays and 50,700 won on weekends. In the first month of service, express bus services between Seoul and Masan or Changwon experienced 30–40% drops in ridership. Korail added an extra pair of Monday morning trains on from January 17, 2011.
After leaving the Gyeongbu High Speed Railway, the Gyeongjeon KTX service stops at the following stations:
Daegu Subway Line 1
Masanhang Budu Line 1
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