Seoul seeking to build massive light rail system

SEOUL, July 24 (Yonhap) -- The Seoul city government will push to build a massive light-rail system over the next decade as part of efforts to promote mass transit and boost public convenience, officials said Wednesday.

Under the envisioned plan, the Seoul Metropolitan Government will establish nine light-rail lines reaching a combined 85.41 kilometers. The new system will either connect areas on the outskirts of the capital with one another or link them to the city's downtown, according to the municipal government.

The city government plans to pay some 35.7 percent of the total cost of 8.55 trillion won (US$7.68 billion), with the remainder to be financed by the central government and private investors.

The fare for the light-rail transit is not yet determined, but the city government said it will be at the same level as that for the existing subway system. Passengers now pay 1,050 won as base fare for subway and bus rides.

Officials said the project is economically viable as more than 10,000 passengers are expected to use the light-rail system a day. The city will draw up a detailed plan by September for approval from the central government.

"Over the next decade, we will create the public railway system to allow every citizen to have access to a station with a 10-minute walk from their houses," Seoul Mayor Park Won-soon said.

Currently, Seoul with a population of 10.42 million operates nine subway lines with a combined length of 314 kilometers and daily ridership of 7.01 million.

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