Passengers including foreigners take an express Airport Railway (AREX) train, which connects Incheon International Airport and Seoul Station. / Courtesy of Airport Railway
By Kim Tae-gyu
One out of five customers of the Airport Railway (AREX) trains, which connect Incheon International Airport (IIA) and Seoul Station in less than an hour, is a foreigner, its operator said Sunday.
The AREX analyzed about 2.7 million tickets sold during the first seven months of this year to learn that 20.6 percent of the users were not Koreans. Users of public transportation cards were excluded from the data.
"Approximately 700,000, or 20.6 percent of the total, chose foreign languages to buy the train tickets. Most of them are regarded as non-Koreans," said an AREX representative.
"Up to 8.9 percent opted for English followed by Japanese with 7.8 percent and Chinese 3.9 percent. We offer services with four tongues of Korean, English, Japanese and Chinese."
He added that non-Korean customers were found to especially love express lines, which allow them to take designated seats.
The AREX operates two types of transport to cover a distance of 58 kilometers ― express and commuter trains. The former goes non-stop between IIA and Seoul Station in 43 minutes.
In comparison, the latter takes additional 10 minutes because it stops at all 10 stations in-between. Passengers are also supposed to take seats on the first-come-first-served basis.
"During the morning and evening rush hours, the commuter trains are crowded with people. But express ones are not and this seems to draw foreigners, like busy businesspeople," the representative said.
"The commuter trains are also popular for many foreign tourists since six out of the 10 stations are linked to the Seoul Metro lines so that they can easily make trips to Seoul and other areas adjacent to tourist attractions."
Another advantage of using the AREX trains are that clients can go through check-in, security and luggage check at Seoul Station in a breeze even during peak season without having to spend time in the airport for the usually time-consuming procedures.
As a result, a mounting number of people turn to the fast railway line. In 2007 when it was launched, some 12,000 took it a day but the daily average has jumped by more than 10 times to 160,000.
To offer more convenience to foreign businesspeople and tourists, the AREX is now running free-of-charge shuttle buses commuting between five hotels in downtown Seoul and Seoul Station, up from two in the past.
They are Skypark, Sutton, Millennium Seoul Hilton, TMark and Center Mark hotels.
The services are available at the terminal on the first floor of Seoul Station.