FAST TRACK: Seven Asian airports with rail links

30 Sep 2009


Suvarnabhumi Airport Rail Link

After encountering numerous delays, the 28-km Suvarnabhumi Airport Rail Link is set to start a trial run on December 5 with official opening being eyed for early 2010. The airport train system will have two lines. The first  line is the non-stop Express Service that will connect the airport to the city air terminal at Makassan in Central Bangkok, where arriving visitors can take other ground transportation to the city or transfer to the MRT Blue Line.

The second line is the Commuter Service (also called the City Line) that will serve local residents from the eastern suburbia of Bangkok. The City Line will have eight stations, two of which provide an interchange to the MRT Blue Line and the BTS Sukhumvit Line.

Fare: A one-way ticket is expected to cost THB150 (US$21.95) for the Express Line and from THB30 to THB50 (US$4.40 to US$7.32) for the Commuter Line. Travellers will enjoy complimentary rides during the opening month.

Frequency: TBA

Travel time: 15 minutes via the Express Service and 27 minutes via the Commuter Service

Operating hours: TBA


Beijing Capital International Airport – Airport Express

The Airport Express of the Beijing Subway started operations on July 19, 2008. The 28.1-km light rail link has stops at Terminal 2 and Terminal 3 of the Beijing Capital International Airport. Passengers can alight at either Sanyuanqiao or  Dongzhimen Station. Both stations serve as an interchange to Lines 2, 10 and 13 of the the Beijing subway.

Fare: One-way fare costs CNY25 (US$3.70)

Frequency: Approximately every 15 minutes

Travel time: It takes 20 minutes to travel to Dongzhimen Station in central Beijing, which is considered one of the most important transportation hubs in Beijing. From the station, you can take the bus, train, subway or mini-van to get to your destination.

Operating hours:
The first train departs Terminal 3 and Terminal 2 at 0621 and at 0635 respectively. In the evening, the last train departs from Terminal 3 and 2 stations at 2251 and 2310 respectively.


Hong Kong International Airport – Airport Express

The Airport Express provides high-speed train ride to Central located in the Hongkong Island, with stops at Tsing Yi and Kowloon in between. All Airport Express stations offer free porter services and shuttle bus connections to major hotels and transport interchanges.

Fare: Single-journey tickets on the Airport Express to Tsing Yi, Kowloon and Hongkong cost HK$60 (US$7.70), HK$90 (US$11.60) and HK$100 (US$12.90) respectively

Frequency: Trains run at 12-minute intervals

Travel time: 24 minutes to Hongkong Station in Central

Operating hours: 0554 to 0048


Kuala Lumpur International Airport – KLIA Ekspres

Often referred to as ERL by the locals, KLIA Ekspres began operations on April 14, 2002. The carriages are equipped with washrooms, overhead and tiered racks for luggages. Special wheelchair seat compartments are also available on board.

Fare: MYR35 (US$10) for one-way and MYR70 (US$20) for a round-trip ticket

Frequency: Note the hour of your arrival as trains operate every 15 minutes during peak hours (0600 to 0900 and 1600 to 2200 from Mondays to Fridays) and every 20 minutes during off-peak hours. After midnight, trains depart from the station every 30 minutes.

Travel time: 28 minutes to KL Sentral, Malaysia’s largest transit hub where passengers can transfer to six rail systems such as KL Monorail, Kelana Jaya Line and Ampang Line.

Operating hours: 0500 to 0100


Shanghai Pudong International Airport - Shanghai Maglev Train

Launched on January 1, 2004, the Shanghai Maglev Train (also known as the Shanghai Transrapid) claims to be the first commercial high-speed maglev line in the world. The line runs 30km from Shanghai Pudong International Airport to Longyang Road station on the Shanghai subway line 2.

Fare: CNY50 (US$7.32) for single trip, CNY80 (US$11.70) for a round trip. VIP seats cost double

Every 20 minutes

Travel time: Eight minutes, compared to a bus ride of 40 minutes to the same location

Opening hours: 0645  to 2140


Changi Airport – Changi Airport MRT Station

Opened on February 8, 2002, Changi Airport Mass Rapid Transit (MRT) station is the rail link between the main commuting MRT network and the airport. It provides a cheaper and more convenient alternative to visitors on a tight budget. Be warned though, there is a lack of convenient storage space and you may have to contend with the commuting crowd beyond Tanah Merah MRT station, especially during peak hours.

If you are emerging from Terminals 2 or 3, Changi Airport station is a short five to seven minutes' walk away. Passengers arriving at Terminal 1 have to take the SkyTrain to Terminal 2 to reach the MRT station. Similarly, those arriving at the Budget Terminal have to take a shuttle bus to Terminal 2.

Fare: Approximately S$2.70 (US$1.90) (inclusive of a refundable S$1 deposit)

Frequency: The trains from Changi Airport station operates at an average frequency of 12 minutes

Travel time: Around 27 minutes to get to City Hall, part of the central business district of Singapore

Operating hours: First train runs at 0531 from Mondays to Saturdays and 0559 on Sundays and public holidays. The last train connecting to a city-bound train departs Changi Airport station at 2318


Narita International Airport

The direct JR Narita Express (NEX)  offers more comfort and faster travel time into the city, but passengers need to book in advance.  The other option is the East Japan Railway (JR East) service that is more affordable but not advisable for travellers with heavy luggage.

Fare: 2,900 Yen (US$32) on the NEX. 1,000 Yen (US$12) by normal rail system.

Frequency: NEX operates every 30 to 60 minutes, while the JR East runs more frequently during the day with the longest interval at every 20 minutes during off-peak times

Travel time: Around 60 minutes on the NEX and about 75 minutes and more on the JR East link

Operating hours: NEX operates between 0512 and 2130 while JR East link runs between 0745 and 2230

Liu Hongzuo and Jarrel Tan

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