Seoul Metro operates the majority of lines 1 - 4, and SMRT is responsible for lines 5-8. The new structure is intended to improve services and safety by standardising equipment and facilities across all lines, as well as combining the skills of staff from both operators.

“With a series of accidents, malfunctions and mounting debt, we’ve reached a limit where safety and service cannot be improved any further,” said a spokesperson for the city. “The unions of both corporations have shared that they both recognise the need to merge the organisations.”

A vote to combine the two corporations was previously held two years ago but failed to pass. However, the death of screen safety door maintenance workers in two separate incidents prompted both parties to resume talks.

Safety is major focus, and with no redundancies planned in amalgamation, increased number of staff will be available to maintain infrastructure. Once current operations contracts expire, the city says it will maintain systems such as screen doors, fire equipment and electrics directly, recruiting more staff in the future.

“We plan to hire over 200 new employees every year with a goal of 1987 new staff by 2021, to maintain the safety of our organisation and create new jobs for young people,” said a spokesperson for the city.