Effects of High-Speed Rail Service on the Shares of Intercity Passenger Ridership in South Korea

Document Type

Journal Article

Publication Date


Subject Area

organisation - competition, place - urban, mode - rail


South Korea, Ridership, Patronage (Transit ridership), Passenger transportation, Mode share, Modal split, Korean Train Express, Interurban transportation, Intercity transportation, High speed trains, High speed ground transportation, Competition


Korean Train Express (KTX), the South Korean high-speed rail system, began offering commercial service in 2004. Although actual ridership rates have been approximately half those originally estimated, the number of KTX users has steadily increased. In addition, introduction of KTX has created significant changes in South Korea’s intercity travel system. This paper describes changes in numbers of passenger trips for different travel modes and changes in modal shares of intercity passenger ridership between Seoul and other major cities. The total number of railway passengers and total rail shares increased between Seoul and cities with KTX service. Express bus ridership and numbers of air passengers decreased considerably on the Gyeongbu (Seoul–Busan) corridor. Modal shares of intercity passenger ridership were theoretically consistent in regard to the competitiveness level of each travel mode for trips between Seoul and the cities on the Gyeongbu corridor with direct KTX service. Results showed that the automobile is a significant travel mode for trips of short to medium distances and that KTX is the major travel mode for medium- to long-distance trips.