Gyeongbu Line

The Gyeongbu Line (Gyeongbuseon) is a railway line in South Korea and is considered to be the most important and one of the oldest ones in the country. It was constructed in 1905, connecting Seoul with Busan via Suwon, Daejeon, and Daegu. It is by far the most heavily travelled rail line in South Korea.

Gyeongbu Line
Korail Gyeongbu Line.png
Native name경부선(京釜線)
OwnerKorea Rail Network Authority
Line number302 (KR)
TypePassenger/freight rail
OpenedJanuary 1, 1905
Line length441.7 km (274.5 mi)
Number of tracks6 (SeoulGuro)
4 (Guro–Cheonan)
2 (Cheonan–Busan)
Track gauge1,435 mm (4 ft 8+12 in)
Electrification25 kV/60 Hz Catenary
Operating speed150 km/h (93 mph)
Gyeongbu Line
Revised RomanizationGyeongbuseon

All types of high-speed, express, local, and freight trains provide frequent service along its entire length.


Groundbreaking celebration of the Keibu Railway (present Gyeongbu Line) from Keijō to Busan in 1901.
Evolution of shortest travel times and top speeds between Seoul and Busan on the Gyeongbu Line.

In 1894–1895, the Empire of Japan and Qing China fought the First Sino-Japanese War for influence over Korea. Following the war, Japan competed with the Russian Empire's railway expansion in Northeast Asia, which led it to seek the right from the Korean Empire to build a railway from Busan to Keijō. This railway line was intended by Japan to solidify its strategic positions against Russia, which it would later go to war.[1] Surveying began in 1896, and in spite of local protests, the Korean Empire gave Japan the right to build the line in 1898.[2] Construction of the railway started on August 20, 1901, with a ceremony at Eitōho-ku, Keijō.[2] Construction was supervised by Japanese, with local Koreans commandeered into forced labor and paid with coupons.[2][1]

Japan also sought to gain control of the Keigi Railway project that was to continue tracks further north, recognizing the trunk route as a means to keep Korea under its influence.[1] After the outbreak of the Russo-Japanese War, Japan ignored Korea's declaration of neutrality and transported troops to Incheon. Japan also forced the Korean government to sign an agreement that ceded its control of the railway. Japanese military bases were established in connection with the railway, the biggest of them next to Ryūzan Station in Keijō.[1]

The Gyeongbu Line was publicly inaugurated on January 1, 1905 as the Keibu Railway (京釜鐵道, Keibu tetsudō).[2][3] The first trains travelled the line in 17 hours 4 minutes.[4] By April 1906, travel time was reduced to 11 hours,[4] while top speed was 60 km/h (37 mph).[5] The line developed into the backbone of transport in Korea under Japanese rule. Following the Japanese invasion of Manchuria, from April 1, 1933, the line was traversed by direct trains from Busan to Andong (today Dandong) across the border.[6] From December 1, 1936, the Akatsuki luxury express trains ran on the line with a maximum speed of 90 km/h (56 mph), and achieved the shortest pre-war travel time of 6 hours 30 minutes[4] in the timetable valid from November 1, 1940.[7]

Travel times increased greatly while the line was used for transport in World War II.[7] Following World War II, the Seoul–Busan express train re-established on May 20, 1946,[7] was named Chosun Liberator.[6] During the Korean War, the line transported troops and refugees.[8] The line remained the backbone of transport in South Korea after the war,[9] when diesel locomotives[6] and the cross-country Mugunghwa-ho train class was introduced.[4] 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.[10] On the Gyeongbu Line, the effort was advertised with a new class of express trains named Jaegeon-ho, (Reconstruction train) introduced on May 15, 1962.[6] These trains reduced travel times below the best pre-WWII travel times for the first time, connecting Seoul and Busan in 6 hours 10 minutes at a top speed of 100 km/h (62 mph).[4]

From the 1960s, road construction began to make road transport more attractive and faster. Although top speed rose to 110 km/h (68 mph) and the Seoul–Busan travel time along the Gyeongbu Line was reduced to 4 hours 50 minutes by June 10, 1969,[4] on the parallel Gyeongbu Expressway, completed in 1970, travel time was only 4 hours to 4 hours 30 minutes.[9] Korean National Railroad responded by introducing the Saemaul-ho class of elevated-comfort express trains on August 15, 1974.[4] with the introduction of new streamlined diesel locomotives and then diesel multiple units in Saemaul-ho service,[6] top speed was raised to 140 km/h (87 mph) and travel time was reduced to 4 hours 10 minutes with the timetable valid from November 16, 1985.[4]


The Gyeongbu Line was extensively upgraded in parallel with the development of the Seoul Metropolitan Subway urban rapid transit system and the Korea Train Express (KTX) high-speed rail system from the 1970s.

The Gyeongbu Line is six-tracked from Seoul to Guro, four-tracked from Guro to Cheonan,[11] and double-tracked from Cheonan all the way to Busan. The entire line is electrified.[11]

Relationship with the KTX projectEdit

The Seoul-Busan axis is Korea's main traffic corridor. In 1995, it housed 73.3% of Korea's population, and conducted 70% of the freight traffic and 66% of the passenger traffic. With both the Gyeongbu Expressway and Korail's Gyeongbu Line congested, the government saw the need to develop railways.[9] The first proposals for a second Seoul-Busan railway line originated from a study prepared between 1972 and 1974 by experts of France's SNCF and Japan Railway Technical Service (JARTS) on a request from the IBRD.[9][12] A more detailed 1978-1981 study by KAIST, focusing on the needs of freight transport, also came to the conclusion that the necessary capacity for freight transport on the existing Gyeongbu Line could best be released by separating off long-distance passenger traffic on a parallel high speed passenger railway, which was then taken up in Korea's next Five Year Plan.[9]

Following the 1997 Asian Financial Crisis, the government decided to finish the Gyeongbu High Speed Railway (Gyeongbu HSR) in two phases, and upgrade and electrify the conventional Gyeongbu Line for KTX services on the sections paralleling the parts of the high-speed line not completed in the first phase.[9][13]

Plans foresaw the development of the Gyeongbu Line into a high-capacity freight corridor after the completion of the second phase of the Gyeongbu HSR.[14] At the time of the opening of the Daegu–Busan section of the high-speed line on November 1, 2010, capacity available for freight trains on the conventional line was expected to increase by a factor of 7.7, while the capacity for passenger transport in the entire corridor increased by a factor of 3.4.[15]


The line was electrified in stages from 1974 to 2006:[11]

Section Length Start of electric operation Notes
Seoul–Suwon 41.5 km August 15, 1974 Integration into Seoul Subway Line 1
Yeongdeungpo–Suwon 32.3 km December 23, 1981 Second pair of tracks
Yongsan–Guro 8.5 km December 30, 1996 Third pair of tracks
Suwon–Byeongjeom 7.2 km April 30, 2003 Four tracks; extension of Seoul Subway Line 1
Byeongjeom–Cheonan 48.4 km January 20, 2005 Four tracks
Cheonan–Jochiwon 32.7 km March 30, 2005
Jochiwon–Daejeonjochajang 34.9 km July 1, 2005
Daejeonjochajang–Daejeon–Okcheon 20.7 km April 1, 2004 For KTX trains
Okcheon–Sangdong 125.3 km Dec 8, 2006
Sangdong–Daegu–Busan 132.8 km April 1, 2004 For KTX trains

For KTX trains and new electric locomotives, top speed was also raised to up to 150 km/h.[11][16]


The Gyeongbu Line is the major route out of Seoul and Yongsan stations and, in addition to regular departures for Busan, trains travel along the Gyeongbu Line en route to Janghang, Gwangju, Mokpo, Suncheon, Yeosu, Pohang, Ulsan, Haeundae, Masan, and Jinju. Trains for Jecheon, Andong, and Yeongju also operate along sections of the Gyeongbu Line.

On the section between Seoul station, Guro (where roughly half of the trains leave the Gyeongbu Line to head out to Incheon via the Gyeongin Line), Suwon, and Byeongjeom, Seoul Subway Line 1 provides frequent commuter services.

The Gyeongbu Line is served along its entire length by frequent intercity Saemaul-ho and cross-country Mugunghwa-ho trains. Some trains run along the entire length of the line, others only on some sections, including trains diverging to the connected lines. As of October 2010, direct Saemaul day trains connect Seoul to Busan in a minimum 4 hours 50 minutes, and Mughungwa trains in a minimum 5 hours 28 minutes.[17]


Korail launched KTX high-speed services with the opening of the first phase of the Gyeongbu HSR on April 1, 2004.[9] The Seoul–Busan travel distance was shortened to 408.5 km, the shortest travel time was 2 hours 40 minutes.[9]

All KTX services use the conventional Gyeongbu Line between Seoul and the start of the Siheung Interconnection at a junction after Geumcheon-gu Office station, until the Siheung Interconnection diverges in a tunnel towards the present start of the Gyeongbu HSR. The terminal for most Gyeongbu KTX services is Seoul station, for most Honam KTX services, Yongsan station.[9][17] In addition, some trains continue beyond Seoul station for 14.9 km along the Gyeongui Line to terminate at Haengsin station,[17] next to which KTX trains have a depot.[18] An additional stop at Yeongdeungpo station was proposed in 2004, however, the plans were dropped in face of opposition from locals living around Gwangmyeong station along the Gyeongbu HSR, who feared that Yeongdeungpo would draw away passengers from the new station and force its closing.[19] However, the November 1, 2010, timetable change made Yeongdeungpo a KTX stop, for newly introduced trains that also use the Gyeongbu Line on the entire Seoul–Daejeon section, to serve Suwon.[17][20]

From its opening, the Gyeongbu KTX service also returned to the Gyeongbu Line for two short sections crossing Daejeon and Daegu, where local disputes about the high-speed line alignment across urban areas held up construction;[21] and all the way from Daegu to Busan. Consequently, all but two of the stations of the Gyeongbu KTX service were on the conventional Gyeongbu Line: after the two stations on the high-speed line, Gwangmyeong and Cheonan-Asan, stops were at Daejeon, Dongdaegu (East Daegu), Miryang, Gupo and Busan.[9] Some Gyeongbu KTX services maintained service on this relation after the November 1, 2010, opening of the second phase of the Gyeongbu HSR, with the daily number of halts in Miryang and Gupo increased.[17] Korail met local demands by introducing additional KTX services between Seoul and Dongdaegu in June 2007, which used the conventional Gyeongbu Line between Daejeon and Dongdaegu to serve Gimcheon and Gumi.[22] However, these services were discontinued with the opening of the Gimcheon–Gumi station on the high-speed line.[22]

The section between Daegu and Samnangjin, the junction with the Gyeongjeon Line, is also used by the Gyeongjeon KTX services, which connect Seoul to Masan on the Gyeongjeon Line since December 15, 2010,[23] and will be extended to Jinju by 2012.[24] Stops along the Gyeongbu Line will be at Dongdaegu and Miryang.

Evolution of long-distance passenger trafficEdit

Between Seoul and Cheonan, the Mugunghwa and Saemaul express trains on the Gyeongbu Line gave rail around a fifth of the modal share before the launch of KTX services. Due to the short distance and the location of the KTX station outside the city, the conventional line could retain most of its passengers, and the increase in the total modal share of rail was modest.[9] On the medium-distance relation from Seoul to Daejeon, KTX gained market share mostly at the expense of normal express services on the Gyeongbu Line, which decreased by half in the first year, while the total share of rail increased to a third.[9] On the long-distance relations from Seoul to Daegu and Busan, the total share of rail increased from around two-fifths to a market dominating three-fifths, with the bulk of that traffic taken by the KTX. For intercity passenger traffic on the conventional Gyeongbu Line, that translates to a sharp drop on the Daejeon-Daegu section (bypassed by KTX trains) and a sharp increase on the Daegu-Busan section.[9]

Railway modal share in intercity traffic[9]
Seoul to... Cheonan Daejeon Daegu Busan
Period Total Without KTX Total Without KTX Total Without KTX Total Without KTX
2003/4 21.1% 21.1% 27.5% 27.5% 40.5% 40.5% 38.0% 38.0%
2004/5 24.2% 19.2% 33.9% 14.0% 63.6% 11.4% 60.9% 10.6%

Station listEdit

Stops at the station
Does not stop at the station
Limited service
Station Hangul Hanja   Seoul Subway Line 1 Connecting lines
and services
L R km
Seoul 서울
  Gyeongbu HSR
  Seoul Subway Line 4
- 0.0 Seoul Jung-gu
Namyeong 남영 南營
- 1.7 Yongsan-gu
Yongsan 용산 龍山
Gyeongwon Line
( )
Yongsan Line
Honam Line
  Honam KTX
1.5 3.2
Noryangjin 노량진 鷺梁津
  Seoul Subway Line 9 2.6 5.8 Dongjak-gu
(Sungae Hospital)
- 1.5 7.3 Yeongdeungpo-gu
Singil 신길 新吉
  Seoul Subway Line 5 0.8 8.1
Yeongdeungpo 영등포 永登浦
  Gyeongbu HSR 1.0 9.1
Sindorim 신도림 新道林
  Seoul Subway Line 2
Sinjeong Branch
(Seoul Subway Line 2)
1.5 10.6 Guro-gu
Guro 구로 九老
Gyeongin Line
(Seoul Subway Line 1)
1.1 11.7
Gasan Digital Complex
(Mario Outlet)
  Seoul Subway Line 7 2.4 14.1 Geumcheon-gu
Doksan 독산 禿山
- 2.0 16.1
Geumcheon-gu Office 금천구청 衿川區廳
Gwangmyeong Line
(Seoul Subway Line 1)
1.2 17.3
Seoksu 석수 石水
- 2.3 19.6 Gyeonggi-do Anyang
Gwanak 관악 冠岳
1.9 21.5
Anyang 안양 安養
2.4 23.9
(Sungkyul Univ.)
2.2 26.1
Geumjeong 금정 衿井
  Gwacheon Line
(Seoul Subway Line 4)
  Ansan Line
(Seoul Subway Line 4)
1.4 27.5 Gunpo
Gunpo 군포 軍浦
- 2.2 29.7
(Hansei Univ.)
1.6 31.3
(Korea Nat'l Univ. of Transportation)
  Seoul Subway Line 1
Nambu Hwamulgiji Line
4.2 33.9 Uiwang
Sungkyunkwan Univ. 성균관대 成均館大
- 2.9 36.8 Suwon
Hwaseo 화서 華西
2.6 39.4
Suwon 수원 水原
  Gyeongbu HSR
  Suin-Bundang Line
2.1 41.5
Seryu 세류 細柳
- 2.9 44.4
(Hanshin Univ.)
Byeongjeomgiji Line
(Seoul Subway Line 1)
4.3 48.7 Hwaseong
Sema 세마 洗馬
- 2.4 51.1 Osan
Osan Univ. 오산대 烏山大
2.7 53.8
Osan 오산 烏山
2.7 56.5
Jinwi 진위 振威
4.0 60.5 Pyeongtaek
Songtan 송탄 松炭
3.8 64.3
(Kookje College)
2.2 66.5
(Korea Nat'l Univ. of Welfare)
4.8 71.3
Pyeongtaek 평택 平澤
3.7 75.0
(Namseoul Univ.)
9.4 84.4 Chungcheongnam-do Cheonan
Jiksan 직산 稷山
5.4 89.8
Dujeong 두정 斗井
3.8 93.6
Cheonan 천안 天安
Janghang Line
Anseong Line (Closed)
3.0 96.6
Sojeong-ri 소정리 小井里 No Seoul Subway Line 1 Service - 10.8 107.4 Sejong City
Jeonui 전의 全義 7.5 114.9
Jeondong 전동 全東 7.7 122.6
Seochang 서창 瑞倉 Osong Line 3.5 126.1
Jochiwon 조치원 鳥致院 Chungbuk Line 3.2 129.3
Naepan 내판 內板 - 5.6 134.9
Bugang 부강 芙江 4.9 139.8
Maepo 매포 梅浦 4.6 144.4
Sintanjin 신탄진 新灘津 7.5 151.9 Daejeon Daedeok-gu
Hoedeok 회덕 懷德 5.6 157.5
Daejeonjochajang 대전조차장 大田操車場 Honam Line 4.1 161.6
Daejeon 대전 大田   Gyeongbu HSR
Daejeon Line
Daejeon Subway Line 1
4.7 166.3 Dong-gu
Secheon 세천 細川 - 7.6 173.6
증약 增若 - Chungcheongbuk-do Okcheon-gun
Okcheon 옥천 沃川 8.0 182.5
가풍 加豊 -
Iwon 이원 伊院 8.3 190.8
Jitan 지탄 池灘 5.6 196.4
Simcheon 심천 深川 4.4 200.8 Yeongdong-gun
Gakgye 각계 覺溪 3.8 204.6
Yeongdong 영동 永同 7.0 211.6
미륵 彌勒 -
Hwanggan 황간 黃澗 14.6 226.2
Chupungnyeong 추풍령 秋風嶺 8.5 234.7
Sinam 신암 新岩 6.0 240.7 Gyeongsangbuk-do Gimcheon
Jikjisa 직지사 直指寺 5.5 246.2
Gimcheon 김천 金泉 Gyeongbuk Line 7.6 253.8
Daesin 대신 大新 - 9.7 263.5
Apo 아포 牙浦 5.7 269.2
Gumi 구미 龜尾 7.5 276.7 Gumi
Sagok 사곡 沙谷 4.6 281.3
Yangmok 약목 若木 8.2 289.5 Chilgok-gun
Waegwan 왜관 倭館 6.5 296.0
Yeonhwa 연화 蓮花 6.2 302.2
Sindong 신동 新洞 3.7 305.9
Jicheon 지천 枝川 7.4 313.3
Daegu 대구 大邱   Daegu Subway Line 1 9.8 323.1 Daegu Buk-gu
Dongdaegu 동대구 東大邱   Gyeongbu HSR
Daegu Line
  Daegu Subway Line 1
3.2 326.3 Dong-gu
Gomo 고모 顧母 - 5.5 331.8 Suseong-gu
Gacheon 가천 佳川 Daegu Line 1.6 333.4
Gyeongsan 경산 慶山 - 5.2 338.6 Gyeongsangbuk-do Gyeongsan
Samseong 삼성 三省 7.1 345.7
Namseonghyeon 남성현 南省峴 7.4 353.1 Cheongdo-gun
Cheongdo 청도 淸道 8.7 361.8
Singeo 신거 新巨 5.6 367.4
Sangdong 상동 上東 4.8 372.2 Gyeongsangnam-do Miryang
Miryang 밀양 密陽   Gyeongbu HSR 9.4 381.6
무월 無月 - -
Mijeon 미전 美田 Mijeon Line 11.0 392.6
Samnangjin 삼량진 三浪津 Gyeongjeon Line 1.5 394.1
Wondong 원동 院洞 - 9.1 403.2 Yangsan
Mulgeum 물금 勿禁 9.2 412.4
Hwamyeong 화명 華明   Busan Subway Line 2 9.4 421.8 Busan Buk-gu
Gupo 구포 龜浦   Gyeongbu HSR
  Busan Subway Line 3
3.4 425.2
Sasang 사상 沙上 Gaya Line
  Busan Subway Line 2
5.1 430.3 Sasang-gu
Busanjin 부산진 釜山鎭 Donghae Line
  Busan Subway Line 1
9.6 439.9 Busanjin-gu
Busan 부산 釜山   Gyeongbu HSR
  Busan Subway Line 1
1.8 441.7 Dong-gu

See alsoEdit


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External linksEdit

  Media related to Gyeongbu Line at Wikimedia Commons