Korean Rail Bike Route Recycles The Railroad

 In Australia Rail Bike Adventure

Don’t drive on the railroad tracks? Good advice for Bill Murray but the Groundhog Day star never rode on South Korea’s Jeongseon Auraji Rail Bike route. 

Don’t drive on the railroad tracks? Good advice for Bill Murray but the Groundhog Day star never rode on South Korea’s Jeongseon Auraji Rail Bike route.

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The Jeongseon Auraji Rail Bike route in South Korea’s northeastern Gangwon Province runs along a 7.2 kilometer (4.47 mile) long track between Jeongseon Auraji and Gujeol-ri stations, descending from the former to the latter on a slight downward grade that won’t tax even elderly rail-bikers.

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The route utilizes a railway that became obsolete and abandoned after 1999 when coal-mining operations in the area closed down. Korail (Korea Railroad Corporation, the state-owned railroad operator) and the national Korean tourism organization were reluctant to let the track fall into disrepair and at the same time, were seeking ways to boost the region’s economy.

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They found the answer to both conundrums by looking to Europe, where the “sport” of rail-biking has become popular in scenic areas once served by railroads. The most expensive aspect of establishing a rail bike route is the actual rails – exploiting recently disused railroads makes perfect economic sense!

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Korail even found a way to reuse and recycle some other bits of obsolete railway infrastructure, as can be seen at the rail bike route’s starting point at Gujeol-ri Station: a unique cafe called “A Grasshopper’s Dream” was built out of two disused train cars plus assorted rails and platform pieces. Never mind the cafe’s form brings to kind a pair of locusts doing the nasty – what better dream for a grasshopper than to be locked in a loving embrace for all eternity?

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The rail bikes used on the Jeongseon Auraji Rail Bike route are brightly colored with comfortably padded seats. 2-person bikes weighing 110 kilograms (68.35 lbs) and 4-person bikes weighing 138 kilograms (85.75 lbs) are available – a minimum of two people are required to drive either size rail bike.

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The rail bikes are the direct descendants of those old human-powered handcars (also known as pump trolleys, pump cars, jiggers, Kalamazoos and draisines) that achieved their popularity peak back in the nineteenth century. The biggest difference between handcars and rail bikes, however, is that rail bikes are pedaled like bicycles making for a more leisurely and less strenuous trip… even when riding through a long, cool mine tunnel!

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Sloping grade or not, the rail bikes typically have a top speed of just 15kph (9.3mph) and being mounted on rails, there’s no need to steer. Instead, passengers are free to enjoy the stunning mountain scenery on their way down to Auraji station… which is designed in the shape of a fish, just because! Don’t fear the return trip and pedaling a rail bike uphill all the way, as an actual train brings riders back to Gujeol-ri station in comfort AND style.

Read more at https://www.momtastic.com/webecoist/2015/07/21/korean-rail-bike-route-recycles-the-railroad/#W49rbOkHvqTUugJb.99

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