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How about a romantic railbike ride in Jeongseon?

How does it sound to ride side by side with a loved one on bikes through beautiful landscapes surrounded by mountains, valleys and gorgeous flowers?
It would be hard unless you were avid mountain bikers. But not if it’s a railbike instead of a regular bike!

What’s a railbike? It’s a pedal powered vehicle built to run exclusively on a disused railway track.

No chance of getting lost or falling over here. You can hop on such a railbike in a picturesque town in Korea called Jeongseon, in mountainous Gangwon-do (province).

The trail there is surely breathtaking, with a stream flowing deep down one side and a beautiful mountain on the other.

Jeongseon was once a large coal-producing region, producing 6.5 million tons a year, but due to the decline of the coal industry, mines started closing in 1989 and Jeongseon also fell victim to it.
The train that once transported coal and people between Gujeolli and Auraji stations in Jeongseon has since stopped operating, but the locals and the Korea Rail Corporation decided they couldn’t see the train leaving them forever. Hence the idea of installing railbikes on the trail was born.

The 90-minute Jeongseon railbike runs down a gentle slope at about 20 kilometers per hour and covers 7.2 km in total. As there are other bikes on the tracks, all with good manual brakes, you needn’t worry about safety. In addition, a slowing mechanism protects the rider from crashing into other bikes.

Divided into four- and two- people bikes, families, friends and lovers can sit close and pedal together as they make their way around the mountain.

The two-seaters are 18,000 won ($17.25) per bike, while four-seaters are 26,000 won ($23). For the latter, however, only the two in the front seats can pedal, while the other two in the back just sit and enjoy the scenery.

On the route is a fairly long tunnel, as well as a bridge under which the crystal clear Songcheongang (Songcheon River) flows surrounded by fresh green scenery and air.

It is busy season for travelers now, so you may often see the ‘Sold Out’ signpost standing in front of Gujeolli station, where the railbike departs.

In fact, about 65,000 people have ridden the railbike as of the end of April, which is a 35 % year-on-year increase. J

eongseon county officials say they expect that more than 300,000 people will come and ride the railbike before year’s end.

Therefore, it is highly recommended that people make a reservation beforehand, even during weekdays.

cafeteria near Auraji StationBesides the railbike, cafeterias nearby are very popular. One at Auraji station, which is housed inside abandoned train cars decorated to look like eoreumchi (Hemibarbus mylodon), a species of fish native to Korea and abundant in the region, and another cafeteria looking like a pair of huge, steel-framed grasshoppers around Gujeolri Station, add pleasure to a trip to Jeongseon.

A tour package, organized by KTX Tour & Leisure (www.ktx21.com -- Korean only), costs about 45,000 won ($43.13) to 51,000 won ($48.90) depending on additional tour programs.

For more tourist information, visit the Website of Jeongseon County at http://eng.jeongseon.go.kr/ (English available) or call 033-560-2361. You can also contact the KTX Tour and Leisure Corporation at http://www.railbike.co.kr (Korean only) or 033-563-8787.

By Han Aran
Korea.net Staff Writer

http://www.korea.net/NewsFocus/Culture/view?articleId=72806

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