An airport rail link is a service providing passenger rail transport from an airport to a nearby city; by mainline or commuter trains, rapid transit, people mover or light rail. Direct links operate straight to the airport terminal, while other systems require an intermediate use of people mover or shuttle bus.
Although airport rail links have been popular solutions in Europe and Japan for decades, only recently have links been constructed in North America and Oceania, and the rest of Asia. Advantages for the rider include faster travel time and easy interconnection with other public transport, while authorities have benefited from less highway and parking congestion, less pollution, and additional business opportunities. Additionally, the links benefit airports by drawing in more passengers via easy access.
For airports built within or close to the city limits, extending mass transit urban rail systems like rapid transit or light rail to airport terminals allows full integration with other public transport in the city, and seamless transport to all parts of town. Service frequency will be high, although travel time is a drawback as the services make many intermediate stops before reaching the city center and thus there may not be enough space for the baggage commonly carried by airport-bound passengers. Furthermore, luggage stowing facilities are not commonly found on mass transit vehicles as their primary objective is to provide high-capacity transport, as in the Airport, Inner West & South Line in Sydney, Australia. A common solution involves building a separate people mover from a mass transit station to the airport terminal (see below), often using automated systems, allowing faster travel time and fare discrimination, for instance Orlyval. Because they are solely dedicated to passengers using the airport, luggage stowing facilities are more likely to appear on these systems.
The first rapid transit station to connect an airport with a mass transit system was the Berlin U-Bahn's Paradestraße station which opened in 1927 as Flughafen (Airport) and was built to provide direct access to Berlin Tempelhof Airport. The connection between Tempelhof Airport and the Berlin U-Bahn at Paradestraße was however revoked in 1937 and the preceding station Platz der Luftbrücke was instead granted that connection and remained so until Tempelhof Airport's closure in 2008. Other early examples of mass transit stations located at airports include the MBTA Blue Line's Airport station which is situated at Boston's Logan International Airport and opened for service in 1952 and rebuilt in 2004, and Cleveland RTA Rapid Transit Red Line's Cleveland Hopkins International Airport station which opened in 1968 and rebuilt in 1994.
Dedicated railway lines to airports have become popular since the 1980s. In many cases, there are stations at the airport terminal(s) for express, intercity and commuter trains, allowing direct travel to the check-in halls. In most cases, this solution requires the building of new track, whether it is a newly built main line or a branch (spur) line from an existing main line.
A cheaper option is to open a new station on an existing line, again connected to the airport by people mover or shuttle bus (see below). While this option is commonly chosen to reduce construction costs, it is only feasible when the station is located within proximity to the airport itself. Two early examples of mainline rail stations built to serve an airport are Berlin Schönefeld Flughafen station (which opened in 1951 and serves Berlin Schönefeld Airport) and Frankfurt Airport regional station (which opened in 1972 and is one of the two railway stations that serve Frankfurt Airport).
Integration with intercity services has produced alliances where airlines sell air tickets that include the connecting rail service. Central Europe has seen integration of high-speed rail into airports, with domestic and international TGV and ICE services from Charles de Gaulle Airport in Paris and Frankfurt Airport. Because of this, many airport railway stations have received IATA codes.
Yet another option for airports is to use a high-speed "airport express" train to the city centre, especially if the airport is outside the urban area and some way from the mass transit system, but a direct downtown service is required, such as Flytoget serving Oslo Airport, Gardermoen. There are various ways this can be done: it may operate on a combination of existing and newly built mainline rail or mass transit track using a dedicated fleet of rolling stock designed for airport service. These solutions often have the drawback of lower frequencies (e.g. twice per hour), and often charge a premium fare higher than other services, but are more likely to have luxury features such as luggage racks, power outlets, Wifi, and washrooms.
Most dedicated railways use mainline trains and trackage, while mass transit "airport express" lines are usually found in Asia, as in the case of the Airport Express Line in Hong Kong. Other airports, such as London Heathrow Airport, are served by both express trains and mass transit.
In many cases, there is no train station directly at the airport, usually because the infrastructure on which the service operates makes it impractical to build such a station. When this happens, a shuttle system is required for the last part of the journey; using either a people mover (often automated, such as AirTrain JFK in New York City) or a bus. The former allows low operating costsTemplate:Citation needed and higher perceived quality; the latter does not require specialized infrastructure to be built, and is often the preferred choice at smaller or low-cost airports. Shuttles do not provide a direct connection, and often involve a wait for a transfer to the next stage of the journey. Thus their market shares are often lower.
In some airports, such as San Francisco International Airport, the rail link may not serve some or all of the terminals or concourses directly; passengers using terminals that lack such connections must use an people mover or airport circulator to access their terminal. These circulators typically also serve parking lots, and sometimes airport hotels and off-site car rental locations.
One-seat ride via main-line trainEdit
Commuter rail-type service directly from a city centre to the airport, without needing to change trains and sometimes without intermediate stops;
- Hong Kong International Airport via Airport Express
- Kuala Lumpur International Airport via KLIA Ekspres
- Taipei Taiwan Taoyuan International Airport (TPE) express train to Taipei Main Station. Part of Taoyuan Mass Rapid Transit System.
- Amsterdam Schiphol Airport via the Thalys and Nederlandse Spoorwegen (Dutch Railways)
- Barcelona International Airport via RENFE commuter train and by Metro line 9 South
- Belfast George Best Belfast City Airport via Belfast-Bangor Line run by Northern Ireland Railways.
- Berlin Brandenburg Airport via regional, InterCity, InterCityExpress and EuroCity rail (currently delayed due to airport construction issues)
- Birmingham Airport via Arriva Trains Wales, CrossCountry, London Midland and Virgin Trains.
- Brussels Airport via National Railway Company of Belgium
- Budapest Ferihegy International Airport by MÁV (to and from the now defunct Terminal 1 only)
- Cologne Bonn Airport via ICE high-speed, regional and local trains.
- Copenhagen Airport via Kystbanen and InterCity services; direct trains to many cities in Denmark and Sweden.
- Düsseldorf Airport via ICE high-speed, InterCity, regional and local trains.
- Frankfurt International Airport via ICE high-speed, InterCity, S-Bahn, regional and local trains.
- Glasgow, Prestwick International Airport via the Ayrshire Coast Line.
- Leipzig/Halle Airport via local and InterCity trains.
- Lyon airport via TGV.
- Lübeck, Lübeck Airport non-stop via regional trains.
- Manchester Airport (TransPennine Express, Northern, Arriva Trains Wales).
- Málaga Airport via Cercanias Málaga service.
- Milan Malpensa International Airport via Malpensa Express.
- Moscow. Trains operated by Aeroexpress company to the city's three main airports:
- Newcastle Airport via the Tyne and Wear Metro.
- Oslo Airport, Gardermoen via the Airport Express Train and InterCity trains.
- Paris Charles de Gaulle Airport via TGV to many French cities
- Palermo Airport via local trains
- Pisa Galileo Galilei International Airport: connections to Pisa's central station and Florence
- Rome Leonardo Da Vinci International Airport via Leonardo Express, the station is also served by the regional service FL1
- Sochi International Airport via Aeroexpress
- Sofia Airport via Sofia Metro
- Southampton Airport by South West Trains and CrossCountry
- Stockholm Arlanda Airport via Arlanda Express service, InterCity, Regional and local commuter train services.
- Strasbourg Airport via TER Alsace regional trains
- Turin Caselle Airport via Ferrovia Torino-Ceres
- Vienna International Airport via City Airport Train (CAT)
- Vilnius International Airport via Lithuanian Railways
- Szczecin "Solidarity" Szczecin–Goleniów Airport via Przewozy Regionalne
- Warsaw Frederic Chopin Airport via Szybka Kolej Miejska (Warsaw).
- Trondheim Airport, Norway, via regional trains on the Nordland Line.
- Anchorage International Airport via Alaska Railroad (Service available to cruise passengers only)
- Bob Hope Airport (Los Angeles area) via Metrolink and Amtrak
- Denver International Airport via Regional Transportation District A-Line
- Philadelphia International Airport via SEPTA Regional Rail
- Providence T.F. Green Airport via MBTA Commuter Rail
- South Bend Regional Airport via South Shore Line (NICTD)
- Toronto Pearson International Airport via Union Pearson Express
- Sydney Airport, Sydney
One-seat ride via local public transportEdit
Many cities also provide a link to their airports through their rapid transit or light rail systems, which, unlike express trains, often make numerous stops on the way to the airport. At some airports, such as O'Hare in Chicago or Hartsfield-Jackson in Atlanta, the rapid transit train only visits one terminal or concourse; passengers must transfer to an airport circulator (people mover system) to reach other terminals or concourses.
- Bangkok Suvarnabhumi International Airport via Suvarnabhumi Airport City Line
- Kuala Lumpur
- Shenzhen Bao'an International Airport via Shenzhen Metro Line 11
- Singapore Changi Airport via SMRT Corporation's East West MRT Line Changi Airport Branch (cross-platform interchange required to main branch of East West MRT Line at Tanah Merah MRT Station)
- Timothy North Airport via Timothy North Metro East West Line
- Athens Eleftherios Venizelos Airport via the Athens Metro
- Berlin Brandenburg Airport via Berlin S-Bahn (under construction, Berlin-Schonefeld International Airport connected until then)
- Bremen Airport by Bremer Straßenbahn
- Copenhagen Airport via Copenhagen Metro
- Dresden Airport via Dresden S-Bahn
- Edinburgh Airport via Edinburgh Trams. This links into Edinburgh Gateway station on the existing Edinburgh to Aberdeen railway line, providing mainline rail connections to the airport.
- Frankfurt International Airport via Rhein-Main S-Bahn and Regional-Express.
- Hamburg Airport via Hamburg S-Bahn, mass rapid transit, green line
- Hannover Airport via S-Bahn
- Istanbul Ataturk International Airport via Istanbul's Light metro
- Kerry Airport via Iarnród Éireann services to Farranfore from Tralee and Mallow
- Lisbon Airport via Lisbon Metro
- Lyon Airport via Rhônexpress
- Madrid Barajas International Airport via Madrid Metro Line 8. It used to have check-in facilities in the city center terminus of the line, that has been abandoned due to high costs and low use. Also via Cercanías Madrid commuter trains by RENFE (which commenced service in 2011).
- Manchester Airport via Manchester Metrolink. (Currently terminates at Cornbrook outside the City Centre, to be extended through the City Centre on opening of Second City Crossing (Expected 2017))
- Munich International Airport via Munich S-Bahn
- Newcastle Airport via the Tyne and Wear Metro
- Nuremberg Airport via Nuremberg U-Bahn
- Oporto via Metro do Porto
- Paris Charles de Gaulle Airport via RER B
- Paris Orly Airport via Tramway T7
- Stockholm Arlanda Airport via the Stockholm Commuter Rail
- Stuttgart Airport via Stuttgart S-Bahn
- Vienna International Airport via Vienna S-Bahn
- Zurich Airport via Zürich trams and Stadtbahn Glattal
- Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport (domestic terminal) via MARTA
- Baltimore-Washington International Airport via Baltimore Light Rail
- Cleveland Hopkins International Airport via Cleveland Rapid Transit
- Dallas-Fort Worth International Airport via DART Orange Line
- Logan Airport via Boston Metro Red Line
- Mexico City International Airport via the Mexico City Metro's Line 5
- Minneapolis-Saint Paul International Airport via the METRO Blue Line
- Oakland International Airport via Bay Area Rapid Transit
- Portland International Airport via MAX Light Rail (Red Line)
- Salt Lake City International Airport via TRAX (Green Line)
- San Francisco International Airport via Bay Area Rapid Transit
- Seattle-Tacoma International Airport via Central Link
- St. Louis' Lambert-St. Louis International Airport via the St. Louis MetroLink
- Vancouver International Airport via SkyTrain Canada Line
- Ronald Reagan Washington National Airport via the Washington Metro
- Dulles International Airport via Washington Metro (under construction)
Rail to airport people moverEdit
A hybrid solution adopted in some cities is a direct rail connection to an airport train station instead of to the airport itself. At the airport train station, the passenger switches to a people mover or other train that goes to the airport terminals. The same system can also serve passengers moving between different terminals and traveling between the terminals and car rental lots or parking areas. Several very large airports have rail stations near some terminals, but people movers are used by many to get to some other terminals. Examples: Paris-de Gaulle and Oakland.
- Paris Orly Airport via Orlyval, a people mover that connects to the RER network at Antony
- Ernest International Airport via a pair of light-rail vehicles, connects the airport terminal to Birmingham International Railway Station, where the West Coast Main Line runs to Birmingham, Coventry and London
- Düsseldorf Airport via SkyTrain a short suspension railway that connects the terminals with the airport railway station (see above)
- John F. Kennedy International Airport in New York City via AirTrain JFK to Jamaica station (Long Island Rail Road trains and New York City Subway Template:NYCS trains) or Howard Beach – JFK Airport (Template:NYCS trains).
- Miami International Airport via an airport People Mover and Miami Central Station, which is a stop for the Miami-Dade Metrorail and Amtrak and Tri-Rail.
- Newark Liberty International Airport via AirTrain Newark and its train station, a stop for Amtrak and NJ Transit (Used by United Airlines as if it were a connecting airline.)
- Oakland International Airport via BART to OAK Airport, a BART Automated Guideway Transit (AGT) system between the Coliseum Station (BART and Amtrak) and Oakland International Airport (BART station) that connect to the airport terminal buildings.
- Phoenix Sky Harbor International Airport via PHX Sky Train to 44th St/Washington station of the Valley Metro Rail system.
- San Francisco International Airport via AirTrain SFO. While the BART station is immediately adjacent to the International terminal and all terminals are physically connected, many people transfer to AirTrain to get to other terminals because of the airport's large size.
Rail to bus to airportEdit
Template:See also Another common arrangement requires the passenger to take a train (or metro) to a railway station (usually) near the airport and then switch to a bus that goes to the airport terminals. Most medium and large size airports have bus connections from the inner city. This list only contains connections by bus from a railway station strongly associated, by branding or by name, with the airport.
- Hong Kong International Airport via bus no. S1 from Tung Chung MTR Station.
- Kuala Lumpur
- Taoyuan International Airport via shuttle bus no. 705 from THSR Taoyuan Station, via express bus no. 1819 from Taipei Station, no. 1623 or 1860 from TRA Taichung Station and no. 7509 from TRA Changhua Station or via local bus no. 1962 from Banqiao Station, no. 5059 from TRA Taoyuan Station, no. 5089 from Zhongli Station and many Taipei Metro stations; however, taking the Airbus no. 2061 to TRA Linkou Line Nanshiang station is possible. The walking distance between the nearest bus stop Nankan Evergreen and the station is about 600 ft., but the train service is now discontinued.
- Aberdeen Airport, Scotland via Dyce railway station and 80 Dyce Airlink shuttle bus. In addition to linking the airport with Aberdeen, Dyce railway station also provides direct connections to Edinburgh, Glasgow and Inverness, as well as intermediate stations on those lines.
- Bergen Airport, Flesland, Norway, by frequent shuttle bus to temporary terminus of Bybanen Bergen Light Rail from Birkelandsskiftet terminal. Direct service to the airport is scheduled to start in April 2017.
- Bristol Airport, England, by frequent express bus from Bristol Temple Meads railway station.
- Cardiff International Airport, Wales via Arriva Trains Wales services and a frequent shuttle bus from Cardiff International Airport Station.
- Glasgow International Airport via shuttle bus from Paisley Gilmour Street railway station
- Liverpool John Lennon Airport via regular shuttle bus services from Liverpool South Parkway
- London Luton Airport via shuttle bus from Luton Airport Parkway railway station
- Marseille Provence Airport via free shuttles to Marseille Provence Airport train station, which is used by Transport express régional trains.
- Moscow Sheremetyevo, buses and minibuses from the metro station Rechnoi Vokzal and Planernaya
- Moscow Domodedovo, buses and minibuses from the metro station Domodedovskaya
- Moscow Vnukovo, buses and minibuses from the metro stations Yugo-Zapadnaya and Oktyabrskaya
- Sandefjord Airport (and until 2016 the now closed Moss Airport) in Norway has free shuttle buses to a nearby regional railway station.
- Paris Orly airport, via shuttle bus to Pont de Rungis – Aéroport d'Orly
- Rotterdam The Hague Airport via shuttle bus to Meijersplein RandstadRail station
- St. Petersburg Pulkovo, minibuses from the metro station Moskovskaya
- Stockholm Arlanda Airport via suburban bus to Märsta Railway Station, Regional and Commuter train services (This is usually done to avoid the extra station entrance fee that you have to pay at Arlanda airport to take the commuter train from there)
- Albuquerque International Sunport via a shuttle bus and the Bernalillo County/International Sunport stop for New Mexico Rail Runner Express service.
- Baltimore-Washington International Airport via a shuttle bus and the BWI Rail Station, a stop for Amtrak and MARC Penn Line service.
- Boston's Logan International Airport via:
- Chicago O' Hare International Airport via the Airport Transit System from Parking Lot E, a shuttle bus from O'Hare Metra station, and Metra's North Central Service.
- Edmonton International Airport via 747 shuttle bus to the Century Park Light Rail station.
- Fort Lauderdale/Hollywood International Airport via a shuttle bus to the Fort Lauderdale/Hollywood International Airport Station
- Formerly, John F. Kennedy International Airport in New York City had a shuttle bus to the Howard Beach – JFK Airport station (Template:NYCS Rockaway and JFK Express trains). The JFK Express trains were canceled in April 1990. The shuttle bus was replaced by AirTrain JFK in 2003.
- LaGuardia Airport all terminals via MTA New York City Bus:
- M60 to Astoria Boulevard (New York City Subway Template:NYCS trains), 125th Street & Lexington Avenue (Template:NYCS trains), Harlem – 125th Street (Metro-North commuter trains), 125th Street & Lenox Avenue (Template:NYCS trains), 125th Street & St. Nicholas Avenue (Template:NYCS trains) and Cathedral Parkway – 110th Street (Template:NYCS trains).
- Q48 to 111th Street (Template:NYCS trains), Mets – Willets Point (Template:NYCS trains), Flushing – Main Street (Template:NYCS trains) and Flushing – Main Street (Long Island Rail Road Port Washington Branch trains).
- Additionally, the Template:NYC bus link also go to selected terminals of the LaGuardia Airport.
- John F. Kennedy International Airport: served by Template:NYC bus link bus routes.
- Los Angeles International Airport via a shuttle bus and the Metro Green Line or Amtrak California or FlyAway Bus
- Milwaukee's General Mitchell International Airport via a shuttle bus and Amtrak.
- Montreal-Pierre Elliott Trudeau International Airport via the STM 204, 209 bus or shuttle link to Dorval Station.
- Newburgh, NY – Stewart International Airport via the Leprechaun Lines commuter bus to Beacon station (Metro-North commuter trains) to New York City.
- Oakland International Airport via AC Transit and BART to OAK Airport or Amtrak Capitol Corridor
- San Jose International Airport via a shuttle bus from the Santa Clara Caltrain station or VTA's Metro/Airport Light Rail Station.
- Toronto Pearson International Airport via Route 192 Airport Rocket bus to Line 2 Bloor–Danforth at Kipling subway station; Route 52A Lawrence West to Line 1 Yonge-University at Lawrence and Lawrence West stations; Routes 300A Bloor-Danforth to Line 2 Bloor-Danforth line and 307 Eglinton West (overnight only) to Line 1 Yonge-University at Warden and Eglinton/Eglinton West stations respectively
- Toronto Billy Bishop Toronto City Airport (Toronto island) via shuttle bus to Line 1 Yonge–University and all GO Transit lines at Union Station
- Washington Dulles International Airport via Washington Flyer or Dulles Flyer to the Wiehle – Reston East station (Washington Metro trains).
- Sydney, Australia:
- Melbourne, Australia:
- Auckland, New Zealand:
Other cities are considering airport rail link services.
- Belgrade Airport is to be connected with city via airport express bus. Airport is currently connected with public transport's line 72, but it runs on every 30–40 minutes and ride is around 60 to 90 minutes long. There are also plans for constructing rail link.
- Bristol Airport - in July 2016 a report was produced outlining proposals to improve access from the city to the airport, including a light or heavy rail link.
- Dublin Airport in Dublin, Ireland is one of the main destinations of the (in planning) Dublin Metro.
- Gdańsk Lech Wałęsa Airport - there are plans for a railway link to Gdańsk Główny railway station with planned opening by 2016
- Paris Charles de Gaulle Airport via new CDG Express service, operated by SNCF, to Gare de l'Est.
- Stockholm Skavsta Airport will gain a high-speed rail link as part of the East Link Project.
- Thessaloniki International Airport via Thessaloniki Metro.
- Wrocław–Copernicus Airport is planned to get an underground station below the airport, to be finished around 2010–2015.
- There are talks of reopening part of a rail line crossing the Hunsrück-mountains to connect Hahn airport to the rail network with construction starting by 2016
- Calgary International Airport - plans are being developed to extend the C-Train to the airport in the northeast of the city in the long term.
- Dallas-Fort Worth International Airport - plans are being finalized to connect two routes offering a one-seat ride:
- The DART's Cotton Belt Rail Line. Initially planned to open in 2013, 2016 seems to be more likely. The service will run West to East, connecting Grapevine, Texas to Plano, Texas.
- The FWTA's TEX Rail. Initially planned to open in 2013, 2016 seems to be more likely. The service will run Northeast to Southwest, connecting the Airport to Downtown Fort Worth.
- Edmonton International Airport - an extension of the LRT is proposed to connect to downtown.
- Las Vegas has an ongoing discussion about extending the monorail into McCarran International Airport. Also in the Vegas area, the planned Ivanpah Airport is sited on the right of way for the proposed maglev demonstration project.
- Montreal-Pierre Elliott Trudeau International Airport - there are plans of a rapid transit system to Downtown Montreal, called the Réseau électrique métropolitain.
- New York City's LaGuardia Airport has been proposed to be reached by extensions of the New York City Subway's BMT Astoria Line (currently serving the Template:NYCS trains). Provisions for a subway connection are part of a 2014 long range rebuilding plan by the Metropolitan Transportation Authority, the subway's operator.
- Additionally, the AirTrain JFK in New York City, serving the John F. Kennedy International Airport in the same city, is planned to be extended to Midtown Manhattan from Jamaica, Queens.
- Ottawa Macdonald-Cartier International Airport - An airport link spur line has been included in the Stage2LRT plan for Ottawa. This will extend the O-Train (today's Trillium Line) to the airport via the EY Centre. Construction is expected to terminate in 2023, and will connect the airport to the rest of the O-Train system.
- Sacramento International Airport - future plans calls for a light rail line that would connect to Sacramento Station.
- Toronto Pearson International Airport - the Eglinton Crosstown line LRT line or SmartTrack express rail are two potential links planned to be extended to the airport in the future.
- Dulles International Airport will be served by Phase 2 of the Washington Metro Silver Line, now under construction.
- St. Petersburg-Clearwater International Airport - A Light Rail station is planned as part of a 16-station LRT system currently in the planning phase.