An update on the 2020 QR codes has been added to the end of the post.
My nearest train station is Gapyeong. Gapyeong is a popular destination throughout the year for various reasons: concerts, pensions, camping, nature, and of course Nami island.
I’ve been to Nami island in almost every season. It’s lovely, a bit crowded, but fun. From Gapyeong station you can take a bus and go to Petite France or even the Garden of the Morning Calm as well as ride around on rail bikes. There’s two courses you can pick from. But one of the things I’ve noticed is not everyone understands the ITX or how to get there.
There are two ways to Gapyeong station. Regular slow Korail, which is great if you want to read and are up for standing for about an hour and the ITX which is a fast train. If possible I try and take the ITX, I book tickets on the korail talk app which is mostly in Korean. (My coteacher helped me create an account) There is an English version of the app, just make yourself an account and you can collect points. But I only suggest doing this if you take the ITX or KTX often. Otherwise it’s a bit of a waste of time. Since I live off an ITX stop I use it almost every weekend to get to and from Gapyeong. Currently these towns have ITX stops:
- Pyeongnae Hopyeong
Also a couple in Seoul but it’s really not worth getting if you live in Seoul because there’s so many other ways of getting around and instead of being about 1,000 won it’s about 6,000 won.
Also note that not all of these stops are stopped at often, just sometimes. When Nathalie lived at Pyeongnae Hopyeong we noticed that I had more train times to get home then she did via the ITX, so after awhile she realized that taking an intercity bus actually worked better for her then the ITX.
The app also works for booking train tickets from city to city, like if you’re in Busan and want to go to Seoul or to Daegu or somewhere else. But you can also buy these tickets (and ITX tickets at the train stations)
For ITX tickets it’s easiest to book at a machine. Any ITX station will have ITX train ticket machines nearby, however in some cases they only take local Korean cards, and in others cash. Their default is Korean but if you look there will be a button that says English, since it’s touch screen touch that button, sometimes a couple times and then you’ll have options. Currently it’s in the lower left but sometimes they update their kiosks and it changes, when I first got here it was in the upper right.
Lately I’ve had to search for Gapyeong but there is an option to search for where you are going. You can type in the English of the name of where you are going and then purchase your ticket.
After you’ve got your ticket follow the signs for the ITX. Almost always it will share a platform with Korail, the slow regular train that goes throughout Seoul and the neighboring areas. You want to wait at the platform heading in the correct direction. Usually there are announcements at the station in Engish and Korean as well as TV screens. Check your ticket and there will be a train number, check the train number with the trains that come in, you don’t want to get on the wrong train.
You’ll also find on the train your car number. There are three options when buying a ticket. Standing, regular and upstairs. Standing means that you’re going to be either at the front of your car number or the back (your choice) and if there’s a seat open in this space take it other wise you’re standing. If you have a seat then push open on the door and head through to find your nice comfy seat that you paid for. If there’s someone in your seat double check that you’re in the right car and it’s the right seat and then show them your ticket. Sometimes people get their seats mixed up or rather than stand in the space by the doors will just sit in any open seat until someone comes to claim it.
If you’re in a “standing” seat keep your ticket on you. You can’t buy standing tickets on the app so you’ll have a physical ticket. A train staff member will come by and check your ticket and if you don’t have one will they will charge you extra and make you pay then and there. It’s always a bit awkward when this happens so try to buy a ticket in advance.
There are bathrooms as well as a nursing room available on the trains to use and vending machines.
If you’ve got a large group or there’s a long slow line of people boarding the train I highly suggest pushing this green button. It will hold the doors open for 3 minutes. This is useful because the doors do not have sensors and will just close on you and pin you between the doors if you do not quickly push the open button again. It’s not safe so push that green button to make sure you will get through without getting crushed by the door on your way to your seat or off the train. Do not stand in the doorway. It will eventually close on you and even if it stays open for longer than three minutes and seems like it may be broken do not trust it.
If you are sitting outside the standing space there’s a good chance no one will ask you to see your ticket, but still have it on you just in case, you may need it if you sat in the wrong seat or someone else thinks your seat is theirs. Just as proof that you’re in the right spot, or in case by chance (very rare) that they ask.
For ITX tickets you do not need to tap in or out at the gates. There is usually an ITX gate that you can go through or show your ticket to the staff to be let through. If you want to transfer though you will need to tap at little kiosks available at the platforms or else you might get stuck. Look for something like the picture above. Usually other people will be doing this as well so just follow them.
I recently made my way back to Gapyeong to watch my old kids graduate from elementary school and middle school. I noticed a lot of changes around town from bus stops being covered during the winter to changes in the bus schedules to something very basic. You now have to scan to get in and out of the ITX.
You’ll notice in the lower right hand corner of the ticket there is what looks like a QR code. You have to scan this to get through. This is something before I left that they only had available via the app. But now, in January 2020 while I was going through they had staff standing at the gates making you scan through, so it seems to be a new change they’ve implemented.
On my way to Gapyeong I was a bit late and I had to buy my ticket on the train, after trying to explain to the staff what I wanted to do. They printed out a receipt ticket for me with a QR code. This I had to scan to also get out. It’s fairly simple, but a little shocking if it’s not what you’re use to. So just be aware you now have to scan, so do not lose or toss your ticket before getting through the gates.