'World's best airport' gets faster rail link
After a construction period spanning almost 10 years, an express train line linking South Korea’s Incheon International Airport to downtown Seoul has opened. The line is an extension of an existing link between Incheon airport and Gimpo International Airport.
The express train takes 43 minutes to travel the 58-kilometer line connecting the center of Seoul with the airport.
A ticket costs 13,300 won (or US$12) per passenger. Regular trains will take 10 minutes longer at 3,700 won (around US$3).
The line began taking passengers on Wednesday with a total of 422 trains operating daily, Arirang TV reported.
Passengers will be able to check in luggage and get boarding passes at Seoul station.
Prior to the opening, the journey from the airport to downtown took roughly one hour.
Incheon International Airport, named the world’s best in 2010 by the Airports Council International for five years running, handles 84,000 passengers on average a day in 2010, according to the airport website.
It has an annual capacity of 410,000 flights, 44 million passengers and 4.5 million tons of cargo.
The airport was runner up to Singapore's Changi in the 2010 Skytrax Airport Awards after winning the passenger survey in 2009.
Construction for the 4.2-trillion-won (US$3.6 billion) railroad project commenced in April 2001, a month after the airport's opening.
The first section between Incheon airport and Gimpo airport, which is located on the western outskirts of Seoul, began operating in March 2007.
The section connecting Seoul station to Gimpo station was officially unveiled on Tuesday by South Korean Prime Minister Kim Hwang-Sik.
Authorities are planning to connect the Korea Train Express bullet train (which runs between the capital and Busan) with Seoul station by 2012, so that commuters can reach Incheon from the southeastern part of the country in two hours and 40 minutes.
The journey currently takes around six hours.
Read about why a traveler was trapped for 24 hours in Changi Airport, and loved it.
Click here for more about other airports in Asia that were given the nod by the 2010 Skytrax Airport Awards.