High-speed rail transforming village into city

Hanwha Engineering and Construction's Park Hee An, who is overseeing the construction of the Dongtan high-speed rail station, with an artist's impression of the station. Behind him is the building site.
Hanwha Engineering and Construction's Park Hee An, who is overseeing the construction of the Dongtan high-speed rail station, with an artist's impression of the station. Behind him is the building site. ST PHOTO: CHANG MAY CHOON

With the coming of high-speed rail, Dongtan, which used to be a farming village on the outskirts of Seoul, is set to be transformed into a modern city offering more affordable homes with ease of travel.

The heart of the development is Dongtan station, from where a new high-speed rail (HSR) will run to join up with the main Gyeongbu Line, which links the south-eastern metropolis of Busan to the capital Seoul.

A new semi high-speed rail is also being built to link Dongtan to Gangnam in southern Seoul, about 40km away, in just 20 minutes. The two lines will converge with an existing national expressway, all underground, at Dongtan station.

Built to the tune of 500 billion won (S$589 million), Dongtan station is slated to be completed by 2021. The HSR, which is 50m underground, will be operational by August this year, says the Korea Rail Network Authority.

Integrating a transport hub with residential and commercial properties built around it is a model for future HSR development in South Korea. The model can also be exported, said Hanwha Engineering and Construction's Park Hee An, who is overseeing the project on site.

"This is the first time we are putting a highway and high-speed rail together with property development. If it is successful, this model can be applied to Singapore and Malaysia too," he said, referring to South Korea's interest in bidding for the proposed Singapore-Malaysia HSR project.

The first stage of the Dongtan city development, spanning 904ha, was completed in 2008. About 120,000 people have moved in, cashing in on the cheaper housing. A 100 sq m flat costs about 400 million won - four to five times cheaper than a similar unit in affluent Gangnam.

Seeing the strong demand, the land authorities decided to allocate another 2,400ha of land for a second phase of development, which includes the HSR.

When ready by around 2020, the entire Dongtan city will be able to accommodate up to 410,000 people.

Chang May Choon

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on February 01, 2016, with the headline 'High-speed rail transforming village into city'. Print Edition | Subscribe