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Trains

Learn about Korea's trains, from slow to fast to bike friendly.

Over the past forty years, Korea built a topnotch train system. From the KTX to the SRT, they offer the quickest and most reliable travel across the country.

A picture of the KTX near the city of Yangsan in South Korea.
The KTX runs along the Cross-Country Route. The train is the fastest transport across the country. However, only passengers with folding bikes are allowed aboard.

In the past, a friendly attitude granted you and your greasy contraption access to many trains. It might’ve gotten you on the KTX.

Nowadays, however, trains and bikes don’t mix. Only a few ITX trains welcome passengers with full-sized bikes. Most trains allow folding-bikes only.

SRT Train Logo

SRT Booking

Ticket booking site for the SRT high-speed rail.

Korea Rail (Korail) Logo

Korail Booking

Ticket booking site for the KTX and more.

Link button to Kakao Maps Highlights.

Kakao Maps

Train Stations on Kakao Maps.

The Trains of Korea

There are four types of trains in Korea. Here they are and which bikes they allow.

All trains allow bikes. But ninety-ish percent permit only folding-bikes. This is perfect for commuters. Not for bikers exploring the country.

Only the ITX-Cheongchun guarantees a place for your road, MTB, or touring bike. A few other ITX trains may grant spots for bikes — but only a few routes at designated times.

If you show up at a station, full-size bike in tow, don’t expect a seat. Instead, check the KorailTalk train booking app (Google Play; App Store) beforehand.

For more background on the trains of Korea checkout our breakdown below.

Train Booking App

You can check which trains allow full-size bikes using the KorailTalk app (Google Play; App Store). First, select a train. Then glance at the seating chart. You might find seats reserved for bikers.

However, the English language option doesn’t show seating charts. So use the Korean-language option.

KTX

A picture of the KTX train near the city of Yangsan in South Korea.
The KTX is the first and one of the fastest trains on the peninsula.

KTX: the train with the fame. The Korean Train eXpress class of trains became the fastest on the peninsula in 2004. Traveling at 305 km/h (190 mph), the train became the quickest and most convenient way to get from Seoul to any other major city in Korea.

High-Speed Railway Lines

The KTX runs along two high-speed railways: the Gyeongbu Line (경부고속철도) and the Honam Line (호남고속철도).

The Gyeongbu Line acts as the primary railway from Seoul. At Osong Station () in the city of Cheongju (청주), just north of Daejeon, the Honam Line breaks away from the Gyeongbu Line.

The Gyeongbu Line heads from Seoul Station (서울역) to Busan Station (부산역), on the southeast tip of the peninsula. Daejeon, Daegu, and Ulsan are major stops along the way.

From Osong Station the Honam Line meanders down to Mokpo Station (목포역), the most south and west city in the country. Iksan and Gwangju are two major cities along the way.

KTX and Bikes

In days gone, benevolent conductors might allow a biker to bring a touring bike aboard. They would’ve asked you to detach your wheels and stuff it in the luggage compartment.

But times change. folding-bikes are the only contraptions allowed now. Commuters can fold up their bikes, hop aboard, and store it with the other luggage.

SRT

The Super Rapid Transit (SRT) and the KTX have a lot in common. They’re high-speed trains that share the Gyeongbu and Honam Lines lines. In addition, Busan and Mokpo Station mark their final southern stops.

However, Korail, a public company, runs the KTX. The STR is privately owned and operated.

So what’s the difference? The SRT runs slightly newer trains and keep their prices about 10% cheaper than the KTX. 

In addition, the SRT’s service begins at Suseo Station (수서역), just south of the Han River in Seoul. From there, the train runs on sixty kilometers of private track, 86% of which is underground.

The high-speed train makes two more stops at SRT-only stations. Dongtan Station (동탄역), near Osan (오산시), is Korea’s first underground train station.

Jije Station (지제역), near Pyeongtaek (평택시), is the last stop before the SRT joins the Gyeongbu Line.

SRT and Bikes

Like the KTX, the SRT enforces strict policies regarding bikes. Folding-bikes are stored in luggage compartments. No full-sized bikes.

A picture of a train near the city of Yangsan in South Korea.
Trains conveniently follow the Cross-Country and East Coast Routes.

ITX-Saemaeul

The ITX (Intercity eXpress) is the newest class of conventional trains. They run faster (165 km/h) than older Mugunghwa (무궁화) trains (140 km/h). But much slower than the KTX and SRT (305-330 km/h).

Compared to Mugunghwa, ITX trains have more amenities, wider seats, and make fewer stops.

ITX-Saemaeul runs on the Gyeongbu, Honam, and Gyeongjeon Lines. They serve more cities than the KTX and SRT.

ITX and Bikes

On select routes at select times, ITX trains may have cars that accept full-size bikes. However, take a peek at the KorailTalk app (Google Play; App Store) beforehand. Don’t expect availability.

ITX-Saemaeul trains always accept folding-bikes.

ITX – Cheongchun

What’s the only bike friendly train in Korea? The ITX-Cheongchun. What’s the problem? The train only runs from Seoul to Chuncheon (춘천).

Along its route, the ITX-Cheongchun stops at fourteen stations. In Seoul, service starts from either Yongsan Station (용산역) or Cheongnyangni Station (청량리역).

Chuncheon Station (춘천역) marks the last stop in Chuncheon.

Unlike the Mugunghwa workhorses, many tourists flock to the ITX-Cheongchun to escape the city and explore Chuncheon, the self-described Romantic City.

The service boasts the only double decker trains in Korea. Besides updated amenities, the trains’ top speed reaches 180km/h.

Cheongchun and Bikes

Plan on tackling the Bukhangang Bike Path? The ITX-Cheongchun is the most convenient transportation. Though there is only one route, it follows the bike path to Chuncheon.

In addition, the train operators equipped two or three passenger cars with bicycle cradles (자전거거치대). This means you can board with any bike: road, MTB, or touring.

The train is popular. If you can’t reserve a seat in advance, check out the Gyeongchun Line (경춘선). It’s a commuter train that leaves from Seoul.

Mugunghwa

A picture of a train near the east coast of South Korea.
Trains criss-cross the peninsula. However, it can be difficult to find one that accommodates full size bikes.

The Mugunghwa-ho (무궁화) class of trains are the oldest (1980) still in operation in Korea. 

Once the most Premium class, now they’re the slow (140 km/h) workhorses of Korea.

The humble Mugunghwa trains run on older tracks that weave throughout the countryside. So, they serve the most cities and towns.

In days past, operators equipped some Mugunghwa trains with bike cradles. And if cradles were unavailable, conductors let bikers hang out in the dining cars or luggage compartments.

However, Korail changed their policies. They removed the cradles and now only allow folding-bikes.

Mugunghwa and Bikes

It might be a longshot, but check the KorailTalk app (Google Play; App Store). Your route could have a train with bicycle cradles. If they’re available, you can board with your full-size bike.

If not, assume only they only accept folding-bikes.

A picture of a train along the east coast of South Korea.
Rail lines flow up and down the east coast. They provide scenic views to tourists.