Korail: Manual crossing at Seobinggo

January 2, 2015 by
Filed under: Korea, Railways 

SAMSUNGWhile taking the train from Seoul Station to Chuncheon I noticed there are still quite a few railway crossings in the Jungang Line within Seoul city. Within a few minutes after departing Seoul Station the train crosses roads twice before Ichon station (이촌) and once more just after Seobinggo station (서빙고). Just to the east of Seobinggo station there is a crossing in the line connecting the 서빙고로62길 to the main road (서빙고로) in the area. This crossing is a classical manned crossing, with next to no special modern equipment and two men waving flags and blowing whistles. In other words: it’s fantastic!

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Seobinggo Station (2 on the Google map) is located close to the Han River and the Yongsan military base and consists of both passenger and goods traffic. For freight there are two options near the station, at (5) and (3) on the map. For the military base there is also a connection close to the station, at (4). Naturally this last connection doesn’t exist on Korean maps of the area, but Google doesn’t have any problems with showing military connections, including this one. The crossing is at (1) on the map, to the east of the station.

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The satellite picture is from the Naver maps system. The red square is the crossing to the east of the station. The large bridge directly next to the crossing is one of the bridges over the Han River, while the building at (1) inside the square is the house for the personal working at the crossing. This is literally in the shade of the Han River bridge.

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Because the Jungang line is a railway line and not a subway line it also has freight traffic. When arriving at Seobinggo on July 2nd 2013 I noticed a freight train was waiting for passenger traffic to pass on the northern side of the station. Since Korail trains are running on the lefthand side of the tracks (like in Japan or Britain) the train had to run around at the station, crossing the mainlines, in order to get two one of the freight facilities on the southern side of the station. This meant a lot of rail traffic over the crossing, within a short space of time.

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The train was headed by 7329, an EMD GT26CW-2. This type of engine is very common in Korea, a total of 217 were built in several badges (7101 – 7110, 7151 – 7190, 7301 – 7383, 7401 – 7484) between 1971 and 1997. Part of the series was built by the Hyundai Rolling Stock Co./ Hyundai Precision Company (now Hyundai Rotem, known for constructing highspeed trains). These engines are used for both freight and passenger trains.

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The crossing itself is a very simple crossing: just a road crossing two trackers, with some simple barriers spanning most of the width of the road. Because the crossing is manned with two people both sides of the tracks are covered by the men. Since it was a rainy day both men were wearing rain coats, it didn’t look as if they had uniforms. The view is towards the south (the Han River is behind the trees).

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A passenger train going to Seoul Central Station about to enter Seobinggo. The train is moving in a westerly direction.

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View from south side of the tracks towards Seobinggo station. The train which had just crossed can be seen in the distance (red lights). At the same time another passenger train can be soon more to the north (right in the picture). This train was about to leave the station, which meant the crossing would have tob e closed again.

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The keepers’ house at the crossing, built almost underneath the bridge. Or perhaps it is the other way around: the bridge might be newer than the building at the crossing. Not the latest in technology, but comfortable enough. It looked quite cosy inside (I was allowed to have a quick look).

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Inside the house there was a very interesting item: a timetable for the keepers. It shows the passing times for regular (passenger) trains, in both directions. The left side is the timetable for the Yongsan direction (west, incl. Seoul central), while the other side shows the times for the two lines to the east.

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But then it was time for the next train, this time one to the east. The train is visible in the distance, to the right.

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The barriers looked rather tired, it might have been some time since any repairs had been done. If at all…

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Train to the east, in the new more “active” paint scheme. The area to the east of Seoul has been in development for quite some time now, the idea being to introduce more (local) tourism.

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The barriers didn’t go up, the next train (to the west) came immediately following the former train.

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View of the same train, taken from beneath the roof of the small building.

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After all these trains had passed cars were allowed to cross for a short time. The crossing is not really a busy place, the road here is just a minor road.

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And then it was time for the freight train to move. This train had to cross several points, going from the lefthand side of the tracks (north) onto the “wrong” tracks, and then backing up into the siding (south). This move was ad hoc, in that it wasn’t listed anywhere. I asked one of the men if the freight train would be coming, and he said he thought so. In other words: there was no contact (yet) between the gatekeepers and the engineer on the train. But then I noticed the other gatekeeper using the radio, after which the diesel started to move.

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The train moving onto the “wrong” track, into the direction of the general traffic.

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The 7329 just about to pass the crossing. It was already slowing down here, taking the train just under the bridge.

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The train has stopped, right on the crossing.

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The train going backwards into the siding. Notice the last few vans already moving into the siding in the distance. This is (3) on the Google map.

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And that’s it: 10 minutes of trains passing through an oldfashioned crossing, with different types of traffic and movements.

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