The Korea Railroad Corporation (KORAIL) has launched the “West Gold Train,” which has cars with an underfloor heating system similar to Korean “ondol.” Ondol is a traditional Korean floor heating system for houses. These train cars are the first of their kind.
KORAIL held an opening ceremony at Seoul Station on Jan. 29 and began full-fledged operations of the West Gold Train on Feb. 5. The train stops at seven “golden” destinations along the west coast of the country.
Running on the Janghang Line, the West Gold Train is a new tourist train that takes you to seven major tourist attractions in the West Coast: Asan, Yesan, Hongseong, Boryeong, Seocheon, Gunsan, and Iksan. Tourists can visit the Asan Hot Springs, Sudeoksa Temple, Namdang Port, Daecheon Beach, the National Institute of Ecology, Gunsan's cultural heritage street, and the Iksan Jewelry Museum.
The West Gold Train consists of a total of seven cars, including a locomotive, a generator car, and five passenger cars. It exterior is designed to symbolize the seven tourist destinations of the region with seven shiny jeweled patterns. When the train runs, it reflects the sunlight beautifully.
The West Gold Train is the grand finale of the train tourism belt, which has been pushed ambitiously by KORAIL. The company previously launched the O and V Trains which run through tourist attractions along the center of the Korean peninsula. KORAIL has also opened the S-Train, which runs along the southern coastline region, in Sept. 2013, the DMZ-Train to the Peace & Life Belt in April 2014, and the A-Train to Gangwon Clean Belt in Jan. 2015. The West Gold Train completes the set.
The ondol carriage, the unique attraction of this train line, provides tourists with special experiences, allowing them to stretch out their legs and rest freely and to mingle with each other more easily on the warm floor.
The carriage is divided into nine rooms. Each room can accommodate three to six passengers. It is furnished with wooden lamps made of cypress wood, tables, cushions, and a plaid interlocking wooden beam decoration on the walls, making the space feel quite cozy.
The car also has the Footbath Café, which allows tourists to enjoy a soothing foot bath while taking in the scenery with a cup of tea. When they put their tired legs into the warm water while looking out the window, their fatigue melts away as if they are in a spa. Depending on personal preferences, users can choose between a eight wet or dry foot baths.
There are various events to be held during the operation of the train. In the third carriage, designed as a café, a group of comedians will have their shows on the train every Thursday and Friday. On Fridays, the train offers programs provided by the National Institute of Ecology, which talks about the peninsula's ecosystem.
Through the video broadcast system, the events being held on the train can be seen live throughout the train. Also, a group of comedians have shows in every car on the train, making passengers' trips more enjoyable.
In the photo zone of trick art located in the third carriage, passengers can take pictures as if they are sitting on the beach, fishing in the sea, or drawing a heart with their fingers at a sandy beach.
Also, in a photo gallery on the top of the café, 30 pictures are displayed to introduce other tourist trains running across the train tour belt and tourist attractions in the seven golden destinations in the West Coast.
Choi Yeon-hye, CEO of KORAIL, said, “I’m very pleased to link the train tour belt in the western region, full of natural marine ecology and historical treasures, with the West Gold Train. I hope the train, which was created by coexistence and cooperation between KORAIL and pan-municipal governments and agencies in the Western Coast region, stimulates a new boom in the tourism industry in western Korea, and maintains the successful history of tourism trains.”
The West Gold Train runs once a day between Yongsan Station in Seoul and Iksan Station in Jeollabuk-do. Until March, it runs once a day from Thursday to Sunday. Tickets will be sold on its official website (www.letskorail.com), through KORAIL's smartphone app, KorailTalk, and at train stations nationwide. For more information, visit the website or call 1544-7788.