The Korea Herald


Busan to build new rail system for World Expo

By Shim Woo-hyun

Published : March 23, 2023 - 16:50

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Busan Mayor Park Heong-joon speaks during a media briefing held at the Busan city government office, Busan, Thursday. (Yonhap) Busan Mayor Park Heong-joon speaks during a media briefing held at the Busan city government office, Busan, Thursday. (Yonhap)

Busan will build a high-speed rail system that will connect Busan’s key districts with Gadeok New Airport, which is also set to open years ahead of schedule in a bid to attract the 2030 World Expo to the port city of Busan.

Busan Mayor Park Heong-joon revealed the plan to build the BuTX railway during a media briefing held at the Busan city government office, Thursday.

BuTX is a hydrogen-fueled high-speed transportation infrastructure that will run 47.9 kilometers between Gadeok New Airport and Osiria Tourism Complex. The railway will pass a total of six stations, including the ones in Busan North Port and the Haeundae area.

The hydrogen-powered train will travel through a deep 40-meter underground tunnel, operating at a speed of 180 kilometers per hour, with a maximum speed of 198 km/h.

From Gadeok New Airport, passengers will be able to travel to North Port in 15 minutes and Osiria Tourism Complex in 26 minutes.

The construction cost is currently estimated at around 2.59 trillion won ($2 billion).

The Busan city government’s plan, however, could face criticism as the railway construction plan has only partially passed the feasibility test conducted between January 2021 and December 2022.

According to the feasibility test, around 113,000 people are expected to use the new railway system on a daily basis. The project’s benefit-cost ratio reached 0.88, while its analytic hierarchy process came to 0.722.

The benchmark figures for B/C and AHP are 1 and 0.5.

Busan Mayor Park Hyung-joon said, however, said the feasibility test has shown that the project is feasible. Park argued that "other than certain areas in the greater Seoul area, it is hardly possible to find a construction project that has received a B/C over 1." Park added that the project is feasible enough given that its AHP figure surpasses the benchmark figure 0.5.

During this month, the Busan city government will conduct research to minimize expenses for the upcoming construction project, while clearing administrative procedures to open the railway system before the 2030 World Expo.

The construction of the new railway system is in line with the opening of Gadeok New Airport, which the government moved up by around six years.

Last week, the Ministry of Land, Infrastructure and Transport announced that it will open Gadeok New Airport in 2029, altered from its original schedule of completion in 2035, to support Busan’s bid to bring the 2030 World Expo.

The ministry said the construction of the new airport will begin at least by the end of next year to begin commercial operation of the airport in December 2029.

However, some have raised safety concerns over the significantly reduced construction period for the airport. Originally, a feasibility test expected the construction will take nine years and five months.

The construction cost of the new airport is expected to reach some 13.8 trillion won, the feasibility test added.