The Suwon – Inchon narrow gauge line: Suwon to Ansan (Part 1: Suwon to Omokcheon)
A walk on the former narrow gauge line (“수인선”) from Suwon (수원) to Ansan (안산) (in parts). This line was last used on the last day of 1995, but most of the track can still be seen in the country side. However, part of the line is now used to build the new subway line from Suwon to Ansan (and onwards to Inchon), so most of the line will disappear soon. The signs are (literally) all over the place: part of the track bed near the high speed railway line bridge has already been demolished completely and in Omokcheon many signs can be find on the track telling people that their gardens are illegal.
The Naver map below shows the complete route of the narrow gauge line between Suwon (1) and Ansan (5). This article describes the part between Suwon (1) and Omokcheon (오목천) (2), which is mainly in suburban areas. The grey thin line close to the numbers is the new commuter line (currently under construction) between Ansan and Suwon, but since it mostly follows the alignment of the old line it is quite a good indicator of the old line. The line from Omokcheon (2) to Maesong (매송) (3) and Ansan (5) is part of the next article, while the line at Sari (사리) (4) is now completely demolished and nothing can be seen here in this area of Ansan. (Click on the map for a larger size.)
The easiest point to get on the line is near Suwon station, on the western side of the main railway line. On the Google map below that is near Pyeong-dong (평동) (2). The line ends at the Korail mainline (1), and between (1) and (2) the line runs next to an airfield which is also used by the air force, taking pictures here might be illegal… In Gosaek (3) the track can easily be found, while in the fields (4+5) between Gosaek (고색) and Omokcheon the line runs through the country side. In Omokcheong (6) it is not always easy to discover the line, but a lot of it is still there.
Notice how the Google Map actually still shows the old narrow gauge line, it is the grey thin line near the numbers. The Daum map shows the new commuter line, which goes straight to Suwon Station, bypassing Seryu-dong. The narrow gauge line however ran through part of Suwon. The article about this part of the line (inside Suwon) is also on this website.
The first thing to see near the starting point (see nr. 2 on the Google map) of this series is a scrap metal dealer, who has so much scrap metal he has partially used the track bed. (View east to Suwon, towards the Korail mainline and the airfield.)
Satellite image from Naver. The scrap metal dealer is the building numbered 828-41.
Walking a short distance towards Suwon, past the scrap metal dealer. The view is towards the Suwon mainline, the airport is to the right (=south) of the line. Everything is still here: the track, the sleepers, the track bed.
Same point as previous picture, but looking west, away from Suwon. The scrap metal dealer is the first business which can ben seen. Notice how people built there gardens right up to the railway line. This is actually modest: further on people are growing there vegetables in between the tracks!
View east towards Suwon. The barbed wire to the right (south) is the airport, which is partially military, therefore this picture might be (somewhat) illegal… I didn’t want to keep on walking past the airport, there were quite a few cameras pointing at me from behind the barbed wire. In the distance is Asia Cement (approx. nr. 9 on the Google map), which is on the other side of the mainline. At approximately that point the narrow gauge crossed over the mainline. That bridge is gone, but the run up to the bridge is still there on the other side of the line (see this article for information on that part of the line).
Walking back, this time on my way to Ansan. The area here is named Gosaek (old name: Kosaeng?). Behind the scrap dealer is the first bridge on the line. This bridge can also clearly be found on the satellite picture.
The first bridge on the line. The name of this river is Seoho River (서호천, Seohocheon). This picture was taken at nr. 2 on the Google map, looking towards nr. 3.
Same bridge, looking towards Suwon (1) and the scrap dealer again.
Overview of the bridge. With 4 girders this is one of the longer bridges.
At eye level the track can easily be seen through Gosaek. The main road runs past the buildings in the background, 100 meters or so from this spot. Therefore, when starting this walk from Suwon this is the easiest spot to get on the track bed.
The line runs through agricultural areas, which can be seen quite well here. Over time a lot of the track bed has been washed away by the rain, even if the track had not been filled in it would be rather dangerous to run a train here.