Posted July. 02, 2005 03:39,
Residents from the Honam region (the southwestern portion of Korea) and Chungnam are fiercely protesting the almost certain selection of Osong, Cheongwon-gun, Chungbuk, as the junction station for the Honam express railway, criticizing it as a decision that does not reflect the minds of regional residents.
In particular, Honam residents argue that if a track is built that bends greatly eastward from the Chungnam Cheonan Station, which is a straight track, to the Osong Station, not only will distance and travel time increase, but construction costs will also greatly rise, resulting in negative effects both in economic and balanced national development terms.
According to the recently published report, Current Situation of the Honam Express Railway Junction Station Section and Alternatives, created by the Ministry of Construction and Transportation, if Cheonan is the junction station, the total distance of the Honam Express Railway between Mokpo, Cheonam and Seoul is 324.84 km. However, if Osong becomes the junction, the total distance increases by 18.97 km and becomes 343.81 km. In that case, the travel time between Mokpo and Seoul with Cheonan Junction would not be the 89 minutes, but rather 93 minutes, four minutes longer, with Osong as the junction station.
Therefore, Honam residents who are the main users of the Honam Express Railway, will have to pay 2,914 won (based on current fares of an individual one-way ticket) more if they travel from Mokpo to Seoul via Osong, rather than via Cheonan.
It is estimated that the construction costs for the bullet train rail will cost 910 billion won more if Osong is the junction rather than Cheonan.
In terms of construction difficulty, considering the condition of the construction section, distribution of cultural assets (Cheonan Junction has 301 assets; Osong Junction has 321 assets), and bridges (50 in Cheonan; 72 in Osong), building the junction in Osong is predicted to be significantly more difficult than it would be in Cheonan.
For such reasons, the mayor of Gwangju, the governor of the Jeonnam Province, and other heads of local governments have stated a joint declaration on June 27, strongly demanding that Cheonan to be the chosen junction. In addition, some National Assembly members from the Honam region have also supported the Cheonan route.
Gwangju Jeonnam Research Institute Planning Research Chief Lee Geon-cheol said, Unlike the Seoul-Busan Railway, the Honam Express Railway has used the existing railway and has earned criticism as a low-speed railway. On top of that, the decision of Osong as the junction rather than Cheonan, which has the shortest distance, will keep the regional distribution of goods as well as residents relatively behind the rest of the country.
Jeonju Chamber of Commerce and Industry President Song Gi-tae expressed strong discontent by stating, If the number of Jeonbuk passengers using the bullet train is estimated to be a daily 15,000, the additional fare that they have to pay will surpass 30 billion won annually. If we have to take the long road instead of the short one, who will compensate for the lost money and time?
Chungnam Gongju City and Gongju City Council made a declaration in the name of Gongju Mayor Oh Young-hee and City Council Chairman Kim Tae-ryong, demanding the selection of Cheonan for the planned junction station of the Honam Express Railway.
Cheonan City Mayor Seong Moo-yong also urged, A national project should not be carried away by political logic or the egoism of a small area. The route and junction station should be re-decided.