Saturday, May 30, 2015

AREX (Airport Railroad) West Sea Train (서해바다열차) timetable, experience

Today I'll talk a little bit about taking the AREX West Sea train. Be warned, this post probably could be a lot shorter, but I just love talking about trains.
AREX takes you to islands on the West Sea

Many of those who live in Korea may know about the Airport Railroad Express (AREX), which takes passengers from Incheon Airport to the downtown area of Seoul in 53 minutes. What they don't really know is that there is one more station past Incheon Airport Station called Yongyu Temporary (Yongyu Imsi in Korean) Station that is temporarily open from April 14 to November 25 on Saturdays and Sundays.

Yongyu Temporary Station drops passengers off 50 meters away from the beach. Once arriving at Yongyu Temporary Station, visitors can easily travel to such places as Eulwangri, Wangsanri, and Seonnyeobawi beaches by a ten-minute-bus drive. From Jamjin Dock, which is ten minutes away from the station, it is also easy to travel to islands including Muuido (Muui Island), Somuuido, and Silmido by ferry.

[AREX takes you to islands on the West Sea]

Taking the West Sea Train (서해바다열차)

Being fairly busy guy, I'm often without the luxury of taking over-night trips around Korea, so I'm always on the lookout for interesting little excursions that can be done in a day. The article I've quoted above is a bit old, from 2012, but the information is generally still accurate even now in 2015 (though you might want to double-check the dates, as this season's timetable lists such trains only through to August 2015).

I took advantage of this special train the other week. Sure, you can take the Airport Railroad to Incheon Airport at any time, then switch to a local bus, or else walk from the airport to the shore area. But, there was something a bit exciting in getting off at the stop beyond the airport, a stop that relatively few people even know exists. It's very convenient, letting you off just about a block from the seaside area at 거잠포, at the end of Yeongjongdo island (the airport island), a short walk from the ferry terminal to Muuido (무의도).

Not all trains dispatch passengers there, of course. Usually the line 'ends' at the airport, so if you fancy it, be sure you're on the right train by checking the timetable below. This "special" train won't appear any different than a normal AREX train; it simply is a normal train, but if you get on as featured in the timetable, they will announce, once you arrive at the airport (인천국제공항역), that that is not the last station; that it will continue on to 용유임시역.

AREX West Sea train timetable. Source: AREX Twitter feed

Stay on, and you can enjoy all the interesting little quirks that accompany the trip like:
  • Train employee telling everyone to please move to the front car
  • The undisturbed flowers growing alongside and among wide beds of multiple lines of track
  • The little station-indicator map light flashing red at the airport station bulb even though all other LED bulbs are lit, and imaging it not quite understanding what is going on. 
  • Exiting the train onto a temporary stairway platform, like you'd imagine in old times. No automatic platform guard-doors here! No platform! 
  • The satisfaction of "beeping out" in a little office room in front of the main station, that nonetheless has all the set-up of an actual station: turnstiles, man behind a windowed desk, card recharger, etc. 

Yongyu Temporary Station (용유임시역)

You exit at Yongyu temporary station (용유임시역), which is really just a temporary platform at the end of the line. Yongyu Station does exist itself, but is technically a stop along the Incheon Airport Maglev Train line (인천공항 자기부상열차), so (for now?) the AREX line terminates just behind Yongyu station, and sadly, you won't exit through that station itself. For the list of stations along the Maglev line, see here.

This "temporary station" isn't on any maps, but I've embedded the location in the map below (or click here). Weirdly, Yongyu Station (용유역) doesn't currently show up in a Google Maps search, despite it being clearly visible on the map's image tiles.

Here are a couple photos I took of the temporary station, which is really just a platform at the end of the line.

You can see many more photos of this station area, including the "mini-station" where you "beep out" with your card, here.

And coincidentally, as soon as I exited, the Maglev train floated by overhead, presumably to welcome me. It has a sort of Mr. Roger's Trolley vibe, and I half expected it to chime-talk to me. I can't wait until it opens fully and I can take a ride. Here are a few photos I took as it passed.

Additional Info

The Airport Railroad Twitter feed, though in Korean, in a good way to come across other neat day-trip possibilities like this. I just love the earnest way they promote the service. They really know how to tug the heartstrings (or stomach?) of a guy stuck at his computer on a Saturday night, pretending to get work done. For example, from today:

<Sea Train info> Sat. 30th, 12:00. Currently cloudy, sunset time 7:47pm. How about walking along the beach with your lover, then having a nice hot bowl of seafood-soup noodles? The Incheon Airport Railroad West Sea Train runs all the way to Yongyu. 
Keep an eye on the Airport Railroad's English-language Facebook page too for other trip ideas.

You can see more about this particular service here, about the line generally here., and about Korean public transport issues generally here. Who knows, you might even see a Big Bang member riding the rails with you.

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