PYONGTAEK, South Korea — The Korean National Railroad began its expanded Metro subway service from Seoul to central South Korea on Thursday, a move that creates a new transportation option for troops stationed at Osan Air Base and Camp Humphreys.

The electric-powered trains of the No. 1 Metropolitan subway line run from 5 a.m. to 11 p.m. seven days a week. They run between Seoul and Chonan, in South Chungchong province, said officials of the railroad, known as Korail.

Trains on the Seoul-Chonan run cover the 34.2 miles in 79 minutes, Korail officials said.

The extended line includes stops at Songtan Station, near Osan Air Base, and Pyongtaek Station, near Camp Humphreys.

The trip between Seoul and Songtan takes about 1 hour, 20 minutes and costs 1,600 won (about $1.50); the Seoul-Pyongtaek trip takes about 90 minutes and costs 1,700 won (about $1.60).

Since April 2003, Korail has operated Metro service from Seoul to Byeongjeom, just below Suwon City, said Park Mi-kyung, deputy general manager with Korail’s International Cooperation Division in Taejon.

But Korail is spending $1.1 billion to extend the service from Byeongjeom to Chonan.

Korail officials have said they hope to ease highway congestion by creating an alternative to cars and buses. They expect about 3 million passengers to use the line daily between Seoul and Chonan.

The new Seoul-Chonan run covers stops at Seoul, Yongsan, Suwon, Byeongjeom, Osan, Songtan, Sojongni, Pyongtaek, Songwhan, Jiksan, Tujong and Chonan.

And by the end of this year Korail plans to open an additional four stops, Park said: Sema, Osandae, Jinwi and Jije.

The schedule for trains running from Songtan to Seoul on Thursday, for example, lists five trains stopping between 7 a.m. and 8 a.m., at 7:02, 7:17, 7:27, 7:42 and 7:53.

Servicemembers wanting to travel from Songtan to Seoul on a Friday night between 6 p.m. and 7 p.m. would find trains stopping at Songtan at 6:06, 6:17, 6:27, 6:41, and 6:53, according to Korail’s schedule.

Trains departing Seoul Station for Songtan between 9 p.m. and 10 p.m. on a Saturday or Sunday night are scheduled at 9:20 and 9:40.

Servicemembers interviewed recently at Osan Air Base said they welcomed news of the subway service, saying scheduled arrival and departure times likely would be more reliable than those of the military shuttle bus, which is often delayed by heavy traffic.

The bus trip from Osan Air Base to Seoul is scheduled at 1 hour and 10 minutes, and costs $4.25. In light traffic it frequently is on time, but in heavy traffic it can be a half hour or more behind schedule.

The subway service “would be really neat,” Air Force Staff Sgt. David Brown told Stars and Stripes last month. “It would be a lot quicker than the bus.”

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