The newly-built Gangneung KTX bullet train line links Seoul to the port city of Gangneung, crossing the north of the country and connecting Seoul to the Winter Olympic venues in Pyeongchang. The line started service in December 2017, and you can search trains & book tickets online here. (Note: as of September 2018 there’s no more KTX service to Incheon Airport, with Gangneung trains all originating from Seoul Station or eastern Seoul’s Cheongnyangni & Sangbong stations)
Construction of the line formed a key part of the Pyeongchang 2018 bid, shortening the Seoul – Pyeonchang travel time from 2.5 hours on the highway to just an hour by train. The line was actually planned regardless of the Olympics, but the awarding of the Games to Korea provided the impetus to finally get it built; the Gangneung KTX is therefore arguably the main legacy of Pyeongchang 2018.
The new line runs from the city of Wonju across to Gangneung; trains run along the previously existing conventional tracks from Seoul to Wonju, and then onto the dedicated high speed line from there.
The stations on the new line are:
Manjong (in northern Wonju)
The stops in Seoul are Seoul Station, Cheongnyangni, and Sangbong (Incheon Airport was only included during the Olympic period). Cheongnyangni (in the northeast of the city) has the highest frequency of service, but Seoul Station will be more convenient for most visitors.
There’s an accurate map here (and that’s a cool site if you’re interested in Korea and a bit of an infrastructure geek!). The other maps on this page are approximate (I knocked them up on Google Maps):
This line is of course of great benefit to the population in the region, but also game-changing for us skiers and boarders wanting to get to Korea’s best ski resorts from Seoul – it significantly reduces travel time to a number of Gangwon-do resorts, including but not limited to the Olympic host resorts, as follows (with closest station in brackets):
1. Oak Valley (Manjong Station, no shuttle)
2. Welli Hilli Park (Dunnae Station, free shuttle to resort)
3. Phoenix Park (Pyeongchang Station, free shuttle to resort)
(4. Jeongseon Alpine Centre; Jinbu Station)
5. Yongpyong & Alpensia (Jinbu Station, free shuttle for resort guests)
6. High1 (via Gangneung, but still requiring a 2-hour local train from there; direct buses from Seoul are actually still more convenient)
Click on each resort name for its Snow Guide Korea review, with full access details including how the journey works using the Gangneung KTX.
The journey time from Seoul Station to Gangneung is just under 2 hours, for a fare of 27,600 won ($30 US); Cheongnyangni to Pyeongchang is just over an hour.
You can easily buy train tickets on the day from the ticket machines or manned ticket counters at railway stations, but trains do sell out (especially during peak hours & on holidays) so if you want to be sure of a seat on a specific train it’s better to book in advance. Again you can do this in person by visiting a station, or you can try booking online on the official Korail site; depending on your browser or your credit/bank card it may not work for you, in which case try Trip.com for a more international-friendly (and generally more user-friendly) experience (usually for a few percent markup, but sometimes Trip is actually cheaper). Tickets can be reserved up to 30 days in advance.
If you’re trying to work out your Pyeongchang 2018 transportation & accommodation options, see here for more details.
Any questions about the Gangneung KTX? Leave a message below and I’ll get back to you.