Airport Rail Link set to be in service mid-2010

Airport Rail Link train

Airport Rail Link train:

The 28-kilometre Airport Rail Link connecting Suvarnabhumi Airport with the city centre will be fully operational within the next six months, mid-2010, at the latest, Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva said on Friday.

Speaking after presiding over a special test run of the Airport Rail Link with members of his cabinet, Mr Abhisit said his transport minister Sophon Zarum has given assurances that the Airport Rail Link’s commercial service could be in operation as early as March or mid-2010 at latest.

The premier and his Cabinet also witnessed a test of the baggage check-in system at Makkasan Station in downtown Bangkok as well as ticketing from an automatic ticket-selling machine before boarding an Express Service train to Suvarnabhumi Airport.

Mr Abhisit said the development of the Suvarnabhumi Airport Rail Link and City Air Terminal Project (SARL) is in line with the government’s policy to develop the city’s communication and transportation system so as to link Bangkok’s main areas to Suvarnabhumi Airport.

He said that SARL will also develop the railway system, which helps ease heavily congested traffic in the capital and adjacent areas and raise the people’s quality of life.

After the special run was completed, many commuters asked for more tickets for free rides. State Railway of Thailand (SRT) announced that free tickets for other test runs will be available on Saturday through Tuesday (December 5-7).

The 28-km rail link connects Suvarnabhumi Airport in adjacent Samut Prakan province and the City Air Terminal (CAT) in Bangkok’s Makkasan area, where passengers will be able to check in their baggage.

Both services of the Express Service and the City Line will be operated on the same tracks at speeds of up to 160km per hour. The Express Service is a 15-minute non-stop journey between the CAT and the airport with a fare at Bt150 per trip.

At Makkasan Station, 28 check-in counters will be in service, with four counters reserved for large baggage. The baggage transfer system will be capable of taking up to 300 pieces per hour.

City Line commuter trips, with fares at Bt15-45, will take 30 minutes to reach the airport, departing from Phaya Thai, Ratchaprarop, Makkasan, Asoke, Ramkhamhaeng, Hua Mak, Ban Thap Chang, and Lat Krabang stations, and will end at the last stop of Suvarnabhumi.

SRT expects to serve up to 50,000 commuters daily. According to State Railway of Thailand (SRT), Yutthana Thapcharoen, the airport link’s full-scale commercial operations are expected in April next year if independent engineers can certify all rail equipment within three months. If not, full service may be postponed to August. The SRT is now seeking a subsidiary company for train operations’ management during the first phase of service. (TNA)