New SkyTrain rapid transit line opens in Yongin, Korea

Map of the Yongin Everline
Map of the Yongin Everline

In the news, and I’m a week late to report this, the Everline Rapid Transit system in Yongin, Korea (noted by many as using technology that is identical to the Vancouver SkyTrain line) has now opened! [CLICK HERE for article on Kojects] The opening happened on April 26, 2013 and it is now in regular service with trains every 3-10 minutes.

That’s right, they cloned the SkyTrain chime in this system! Looks like some Metro Vancouver residents in Korea (hey G.Na, you homesick?) might feel a bit more at-home now with the introduction of this line

The Yongin Everline has been a subject of criticism of some in Metro Vancouver for having been a “white elephant” for many years (the line’s opening a week ago came after many delays), particularly those who have a particular dislike for SkyTrain’s technology and claim that it is costly, inefficient and proprietary (see: SkyTrain is obsolete). This may be related to the fact that the technology’s implementation around the world is quite uncommon, although it is not proprietary (confirmed by research with Better Surrey Rapid Transit – [CLICK HERE]). Most of these people are simply opposed to grade-separated rapid transit or ‘light metro’ constructions of any propulsion technology.

There was a myth going around that the reason for the Everline’s opening delay (the line was originally supposed to open in 2010) had to do with operating costs and funding, with SkyTrain technology critics using this myth to attack SkyTrain’s technology. This is false. According to this report, the Everline opening delay was a result of noise and safety concerns brought up by the city that do not have anything to do with financial implications. The actual annual line operating cost is listed at 29.5 billion won (don’t be fooled by the billion, that translates to just $27 million in Canadian dollars).

Also, many of those people are potent in telling others that the Yongin Everline’s main purpose is to connect a Seoul subway station with a popular amusement park, and claim that it had not been truly been built for a major urban rapid transit purpose. This is actually not entirely the case. The Everline was also built in mind for commute purposes; it has several stations along its 18km length, which service the city of Yongin, Korea – the city that the line passes through on the way to the amusement park. There is a connection to the Sin Bundang Seoul Subway line, which travels to the Gangnam business district in Seoul.

Below is a full time-lapse video of the EverLine. You can see that it passes through some very dense areas that sort of resemble areas in Metro Vancouver along SkyTrain like Metrotown, Joyce-Collingwood, and Brentwood. Yongin looks like a beautiful city, deserving of a great rapid transit line.

Yongin LRT and SkyTrain technology” critics will probably also be keen to point out the people-mover-like nature of the service, which uses small single-car trains to provide service rather than the longer trains on other metro and light metro systems. In terms of capacity, the Yongin Everline actually provides the same capacity as the branch of the Canada Line in Richmond that extends to Richmond Brighouse.

On the Canada Line Richmond branch, dual-car trains with a normal capacity of 334 passengers and crush load capacity of 400 passengers run every 6 minutes in the peak. The Everline runs single-car trains every 3 minutes in the peak(expandable to two-car trains), and each single car train has a similar capacity to a single Canada Line car. This is because there are a few key differences in this line versus Vancouver’s SkyTrain system: the seats are side-facing, opening up more room for standing. The entire train is also visibly wider, approaching the same width as the Rotem cars used in the Canada Line. According to this Bombardier datasheet [CLICK HERE], trains can be configured for widths of 2.65m, 2.9m, or 3.2m; it’s just a matter of system specifics. New systems will probably use 3.2m (the Beijing Airport Express does). The SkyTrain uses 2.65m, the width finalized with the original 1980s iteration of the technology.

The Bombardier press release on the Yongin LRT opening [CLICK HERE] is quick to tout the technology being used in the Everline, but one of the things it also reveals is a bit more info about the newest iteration of “SkyTrain technology”: the Bombardier INNOVIA METRO 300. A few months ago I dug up a number of pictures of this new version of SkyTrain vehicles that will be hitting Metro Vancouver and Kuala Lumpur rapid transit line extensions in 2016 or so. They look no less than beautiful:

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

The press release confirms from Bombardier itself that Vancouver and Kuala Lumpur are both launch customers for the new INNOVIA METRO. The new INNOVIA METRO cars are probably the 28 rapid transit cars that have been ordered for the Evergreen Line in 2016.