In this report, we’ll experience the First Class car of a KTX-Sancheon train on a short hop from Suncheon to Jeonju. We’ll also take a close look at Suncheon Station itself – from the plaza outside to the platforms within.
Note: The journey described in this travel report took place on 25 January 2020. Fares, timetables, train hardware, station facilities and other details may change anytime without prior notice.
Country : Republic of Korea (South Korea)
Railway company : KORAIL
Service type : High-Speed Rail
Service name/designation : KTX 742
Rolling stock : KTX-Sancheon
Travel class : First
Line used : Jeolla Line
Origin : Suncheon Station (dep. 08:24)
Destination : Jeonju Station (arr. 09:19)
Journey time : 55 minutes
Date of journey : Saturday, 25 January 2020
Just one thing before we proceed. If you’d like to learn more about intercity rail travel in Korea (especially on the KTX), please click here and check out my previous Rail Reports documenting KORAIL’s long-distance train services.
Now we’re ready to set off.
Step 1: Make your way to Suncheon Station
This step is of no small importance. After all, it’s not like the train will drive past our hotel to pick us up. 🙂
My guesthouse was within a few minutes’ walk of Suncheon Station, so I simply relied on foot power for transport. If you’re a little further away, download KakaoMap and/or Naver Map (two widely used Korean wayfinding apps) and search for the most convenient bus route or generate a taxi fare estimate.
And here we are at the spacious station plaza.
Let’s head inside and move on to the next step.
Step 2: Buy your train ticket
Ticket machines are available at major train stations. The catch: not all of them take cash, and the ones that accept cards might take only plastic issued locally (i.e., by Korean banks or Korean branches of foreign banks).
The ticket machines I saw at Suncheon Station would only take domestic credit cards, so I queued up at a manned ticket window to purchase mine.
17,400 won got me a seat to Jeonju in the First Class compartment of the KTX 742, scheduled to depart at 08:24. An Economy Class ticket on the same train would have cost just 12,400 won, but the small difference seemed well worth paying for a little extra comfort.
Step 3: Relax in the station whilst waiting for your train
Easier said than done, perhaps … especially during peak travel periods like the Seollal (Korean New Year) weekend.
I suspect the crowds would have been horrendous on the 24th of January (day 1 of the Seollal holidays in 2020), with people either pouring into Suncheon or flooding out to their hometowns. Today, on the second day of the long weekend, the station’s main hall was busy but not stiflingly packed.
Passengers in search of provisions will find a doughnut shop and convenience store on the premises. Seating is limited (as seen below), so best to think of these as grab-and-go places rather than as spots for lingering.
Step 4: Head for the platform
You can access the station’s elevated concourse level by escalator, stairs, or lift.
As you step off at the top, you’ll see pay lockers towards the right (useful for those in need of short-term storage).
Platform (or “track”) assignments are based on destination. Note that tickets don’t usually state the departure platforms, but if you buy yours from a manned counter, the agent will likely scribble that information down for you (see the picture of my ticket posted earlier).
Step 5: Board your train
Today’s service was operated using a KTX-Sancheon train. This type is the second generation of high-speed rolling stock used on the KTX network, with markedly different exteriors and interiors from those of the older first-generation trains.
Let’s hop aboard! Mind the platform gap – but not to worry, that’s what the retractable step below the door is for.
If you’ve got luggage to stow, there are racks in the vestibule areas near the doors (in addition to the overhead shelves within each compartment).
Here’s a simplified plan of the train showing where you can find the various facilities (e.g., toilets).
Step 6: Locate your seat and settle in
Your assigned car and seat number are shown on your ticket. Economy (or Standard) Class compartments are fitted with 4 seats to a row, two on either side of the aisle. Here in First Class, there are just 3 seats to a row – pair on one side, solo on the other.
Step 7: Enjoy the ride
First Class passengers are offered complimentary snacks and bottled water. On KTX-Sancheon trains like this one, the water is served directly at your seat together with the snack package. On older KTX-I trains, you’ll need to fetch the water yourself from a vending machine next to the First Class compartment (note: it’s still free; the machine won’t require you to insert cash).
The package includes a sweet cookie, mixed nuts, and a moist towelette. No change from when I last took the KTX almost a year prior.
If you’re planning to use your phone or other electronic device, you can plug into the power outlet down by the floor to keep the battery charged. Bear in mind that it’s designed to take a Korean-style plug (with two round pins).
Care for some literature? Let’s dig into the seat pocket and see what sort of reading material they’ve got in there.
There’s also a rack by the door stocked with newspapers. If I’m not mistaken, you’re meant to leave them behind after reading – NOT take them home with you. Also I’m not certain if the Economy Class cars are also furnished with newspaper racks; I can only attest to their presence in First Class.
And there we are. Now all that’s left is to lean back, relax, and enjoy the experience as the train bears us towards our destination at high speed.
The next post will cover the return trip from Jeonju to Suncheon, and it will also include a detailed description of Jeonju Station itself.
Until then, cheerio.