KOREA National Railway (KR) announced on April 25 that it will invest Won 708.2bn ($US 531m) in eight railway projects across Chungcheong Province in 2023, including significant improvements to high-speed connections in the region.

Chungcheong Province serves as a major transport hub in Korea, with the majority of the country's trains, including high-speed KTX trains, passing through this region.

Improvements include adding another two tracks to the 46.4km Gyeongbu high-speed line between Pyeongtaek and Osong, a vital project which will alleviate congestion and improve high-speed services across the country. The section connects with Supreme Rail’s (SR) Suseo - Pyeongtaek high-speed line and has become a bottleneck affecting the majority of Korea’s high-speed network. All high-speed services in or out of Seoul from the south use the line as far as Osong.

The line already carries 190 trains per day and services are often fully booked, and there is currently no extra capacity to increase service frequency. However, the project will increase line capacity to 372 trains per day.

KR will invest Won 150.5bn in providing the two extra tracks this year, with construction set to begin soon for completion in 2027. It will be the first high-speed line in Korea to be built with a design speed of 400km/h.

The project will also include the second longest railway tunnel in Korea after the Yulhyeon Tunnel on the Suseo high-speed line, and will feature the Korean Train Control System (KTCS-2) and an LTE-R network for signalling and communications.

Gyeongbu high-speed services will also operate entirely on high-speed lines following the completion of the 5.96km Daejeon North Link, which will replace the conventional main line.

KR is investing Won 36.2bn to push forward with construction. The project plan is expected to be approved in the first half of 2023, after which the construction will commence with work expected to conclude in 2027.

KR will invest Won 521.5bn in six other projects this year, including the West Coast Railway, a double-track high-speed line that will run along the west coast of the peninsula.

KR has invested Won 120.3bn in the project this year, with a 90km section currently under construction from Songsan in Gyeonggi Province to Hongseong in South Chungcheong Province. The line is currently 92% complete and work is expected to conclude in the second half of 2024.

Other projects include the Won 148.7bn Icheon - Mungyeong line, which is due to be completed in the second half of 2024; the Poseung - Pyeongtaek line; and the Janghang Line between Cheonan and Janghang, which is being electrified, track doubled, and upgraded for higher speeds with a straighter alignment.

“By implementing the Won 708.2bn railway budget for the Chungcheong region this year, we will contribute to the revitalisation of the local economy and job creation, and ensure the smooth progress of the planned railway projects to help the region leap forward to become mega-city that can compete with the capital area,” says KR chairman and CEO, Mr Kim Hanyoung.

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