Airport Rail Link (Bangkok)

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Airport Rail Link
Makkasan Platform1.jpg
City Line train at City Air Terminal. Makkasan Station.
Type Express rail & Commuter rail
System Airport rail link
Status Operating
Locale Bangkok, Thailand
Termini Suvarnabhumi Airport
Phaya Thai
Stations 8
Services 3
Daily ridership 47,000[1]
Opened 23 August 2010
Owner State Railway of Thailand
Operator(s) SRTET
Line length 28.6 km (17.8 mi) (estimated)
Track gauge 1,435 mm (4 ft 8 12 in) standard gauge
Electrification Overhead line, 25 kV AC
Operating speed Express: 160 km/h (99 mph)
Normal: 120 km/h (75 mph)
Route map
(SRT East Rail Line)
SuvarnabhumiBSicon FLUG.svg
Lat Krabang
Ban Thap Chang
Hua Mak
(Light Red Line: Khlong Tan)
Phaya Thai
(to Bangsue/Taling Chan)
Station Stops
Suvarnabhumi AirportBSicon FLUG.svg
Lat Krabang
Ban Thap Chang
Hua Mak
Makkasan(City Air Terminal)
Phaya ThaiBSicon TRAM.svg
Express Line Train
City Line Train

The Airport Rail Link (ARL) (Thai: รถไฟฟ้าเชื่อมท่าอากาศยานสุวรรณภูมิ) is an express and commuter rail in Bangkok, Thailand. The line provides an airport rail link from Suvarnabhumi Airport, via Makkasan, to Phaya Thai station in central Bangkok. Most of the line is on a viaduct over the main eastern railway. It is owned by State Railway of Thailand (SRT) and operated by SRT subsidiary SRT Electrified Train (SRTET). The 28.6 kilometers (17.8 mi) Airport Rail Link opened for service on 23 August 2010.[2] Services consist of two express services (a 15-minute nonstop service between the Makkasan city air terminal and the airport and an 18-minute nonstop service between Phaya Thai and the airport) and the City Line, a commuter rail service with eight stations. As of September 2014, all express services were suspended until further notice due to a shortage of rolling stock availability.


The airport link contract was signed in January 2005, and construction began in July 2005.[3] The line was built by a consortium of B Grimm, STECON, and Siemens. It is operated by SRTET (SRT Electric Train Company), a wholly owned subsidiary of the State Railway of Thailand (SRT). The cost of the project was 25.9 billion baht.[4]

The line is built largely along the same alignment as the failed Bangkok Elevated Road and Train System (BERTS) project, started by Hopewell, but stopped in 1997 when only 10 percent had been completed. Many previously constructed BERTS pillars stood in the way of the new system. After extensive debate and an engineering review on their suitability for use in the ARL project—and demands for compensation from Hopewell—the SRT eventually decided to demolish the pillars and build new ones.[5]

Originally scheduled to be completed by 2006, the Hopewell debacle, an extended bidding process, and a series of legal challenges from squatters and property owners who had encroached on SRT's land, repeatedly delayed the project. Initial test runs were conducted in October 2009, with a free limited trial service open to the public running from April 2010. Full commercial services were launched on 23 August 2010.

An extension north along the SRT Red Lines (former BERTS) corridor from Phaya Thai to Don Mueang Airport via the new Bang Sue Intercity Terminal (under construction) is planned.[6] In addition, the eastern section of the SRT Light Red Line commuter rapid transit, if built, will use the right of way of the SRL, with interchanges provided at SARL at Phaya Thai, Makkasan, and Hua Mak stations.

Passive provision is being made for an extension of the rail link to a future second terminal at Suvarnabhumi Airport.[citation needed]


The ARL operates daily from 06:00 to 24:00, with commuter City Line (blue) trains departing every 12 minutes during peak hours (06:00-09:00 and 16:00-20:00) and 15 minutes off peak & weekends. The Express Line (Red) trains (currently suspended) depart every 30–60 minutes. From 1 May 2015 the City Line frequency will be every 10 minutes during peak hours

City Line

The commuter/suburban City Line stops at all eight stations. It is used by many residents and students in the eastern suburbs as well as airport staff. The City Line has suffered from significant overcrowding since 2012. Accordingly, since 2013 extra City Line services have been introduced using one Express Line set. The City Line currently averages around 56,000 passengers a day on weekdays and 40,000 a day on weekends.[7] City Line units allow passengers to bring bicycles during off peak periods and on weekends, but excessively large bags for trips to the airport can be difficult during peak periods. The system has come under some local scrutiny for this.[8]

Express Line

As of September 2014, all express services were suspended until further notice due to a shortage of rolling stock availability.

On 1 June 2011, additional Express Line services became available between Phaya Thai station and the airport with a total journey time of 18 minutes.[9] This effectively means that there are two distinct Express Services: one to/from Phaya Thai with a 60-minute headway; and one to/from Makkasan Terminal also with a 60-minute headway. This is due to a design flaw in the original laying of the rail which meant that the Express Line track terminates at Makkasan and does not connect with the City Line track which run on the outer side of the Express line, to Phaya Thai. The SRT allocated 17m baht in Feb 2012 to rectify this problem.[10] As of July 2014 the two tracks had not been connected.

At the end of April 2014, the Phaya Thai Express service was suspended for 12 months due to insufficient rolling stock being available while long term, overhaul maintenance of the express rolling stock is undertaken. As such, the hourly Makkasan Express service is only averaging 400 passengers a day. Subsequently, in September 2014 the Makkasan Express was also suspended due to insufficient rolling stock.


Between 23 August 2010 and 3 January 2011, passengers were charged a promotional fare of 15 baht or 100 baht on the City Line and Express Line services, respectively. On 4 January 2011, a standard fare of 15–45 baht for the City Line was introduced. The Express Line was priced at 150 baht but insufficient patronage led to a promotional fare of 90–150 baht for a single/return trip (within 14 days) on the Express Line from 1 June 2011.[9] This promotional fare has been extended ever since and is currently extended until the end of 2014.

City Air Terminal (Makkasan Station) check-in service

From 4 January 2011, a baggage check-in service began for passengers traveling on flights operated by Thai Airways International, 08:00–21:00. Passengers checking in at Makkasan station (the city air terminal) were required to purchase an Express Line ticket and check in at least between 3 to 12 hours in prior to flight departure. Bangkok Airways discontinued baggage check-in service in this facility on 13 June 2011. However, very few passengers—20 or fewer per day—use the Makkasan station check-in service.[11] The SRTET stated that they wanted to encourage further airlines to use the City check in service in early 2014 with a target of 1,000 people a day by late-2014.[12] However, in July 2014 the SRTET stated that it would most likely cease check-in operations as only 10 people were using it a day with only 200 pieces of luggage checked in each month. The service was costing SRTET 5.27m baht a month.[13] Check-in services ceased in September 2014.


The standard gauge line is 28.6 km long and is elevated, running above the existing eastern railway, with an underground terminal at the airport. Both non-stop Suvarnabhumi Airport Express services and "stopping" Suvarnabhumi Airport City Line commuter services are operated, with express journeys taking 15 minutes from Makkasan and 18 minutes from Phaya Thai while commuter trips take 27 minutes.[4]

Siemens supplied nine Desiro Class 360/2 trainsets. The only significant difference from the UK units is a much larger air conditioning pod on the roof, providing extra cooling to cope with the Thai climate. City services are operated by five three-car trains, and the express services by four trainsets with a fourth car for check-in baggage. The first trains left Germany in September 2007, and testing in Bangkok began in March 2008.[14] On 15 May 2012 the Thai Cabinet approved a budget of 5.2 billion baht for the SRT to order seven new, four car sets of Siemens Desiro rolling stock to be delivered by 2014.[15] However, as of June 2013 no orders for new rolling stock had been placed. The Ministry of Transport was considering purchasing cheaper Chinese (CNR) or Spanish (CAF) rolling stock which would require changing the Siemens closed signalling system to an open system.[16]

The line is electrified at 25 kV AC. All stations were built to accommodate 10-car trains, and the express train platform of Makkasan station and all platforms at Suvarnabhumi are fitted with platform automatic screen doors. The top speed is 160 km/h, but the short distances between the stations do not permit commuter services to reach that speed.[3]

At Makkasan and Suvarnabhumi, both lines have their own tracks and platforms. At Hua Mak the express line can bypass the city line via a passing loop.

Rolling stock

The nine sets of Siemens Desiro II trains were built in Krefeld, Germany.[17]

Four trains—four cars, red colour—are used for the two separate express service between Makkasan and Phaya Thai and Suvarnabhumi Airport.[17] The other five trains—three cars, blue colour—are used for commuter City Line service stopping at all eight stations on the Airport Line.[17] All units are based on the Class 360, which operates with British TOCs Abellio Greater Anglia and Heathrow Connect.

New rolling stock to be ordered

Approval was granted by the Transport Ministry (MOT) for the SRT to purchase seven new, four car sets of rolling stock in early 2012 due to overcrowding and the urgent need to provide extra rolling stock. Currently, one express set is being used for City Line services. During, 2013 the MOT reviewed the purchase intention to consider cheaper Chinese rolling stock. In December 2013, the Thai Cabinet approved 4.9 billion baht for the seven new sets of rolling stock.[18] As of mid-2014, a supplier had not been selected, but the SRT indicated its intention to invite bidders to tender for new rolling stock in September 2014.[8] This was subsequently delayed with the SRT expecting to conduct an e-tender in April 2015 with a schedule to sign the contract by June 2015.[7]


Code Station Name Thai City Train Transfer
SVB Suvarnabhumi (Airport) สุวรรณภูมิ  Bangna-Suvarnabhumi LRT  (proposed)
LKB Lat Krabang ลาดกระบัง  SRT  Eastern Line
BTC Ban Thap Chang บ้านทับช้าง  SRT  Eastern Line
HUM Hua Mak หัวหมาก  Yellow Line : Phatthanakan (proposed)
 Light Red Line  (proposed)
 SRT  Eastern Line
RAM Ramkhamhaeng รามคำแหง  Light Red Line  (proposed)
 SRT  Eastern Line
MAS Makkasan
(City Air Terminal)
 Blue Line : Phetchaburi
 Light Blue Line  (proposed)
 Light Red Line  (proposed)
 SRT  Eastern Line
RPR Ratcha-prarop ราชปรารภ  Orange Line : Ratchaprarop (proposed)
 Light Red Line  (proposed)
 SRT  Eastern Line
PTH Phaya Thai พญาไท  Sukhumvit Line : Phaya Thai
 Light Red Line  (proposed)
 SRT  Eastern Line


Future extension

Since its inception, the ARL was intended to be extended to the new SRT Bang Sue Terminal (under construction) and ultimately Don Mueang Airport (DMK). The 21.8 km extension—3.5 km underground and 18.3 km elevated—would consist of five stations beyond the current terminus at Phaya Thai: Chitladda Palace (underground), Bang Sue Intercity Terminal (under construction), Bang Khen, Laksi, and Don Mueang.

Originally, it was thought that work on the extension would not commence until after 2016. However, the Thai Cabinet designated a two-airport policy in March 2012 encouraging airlines, particularly low-cost carriers, to move to DMK.[19] This resulted in an advance of the ARL extension timeline.[20] The SRT budgeted for the extension in its 2013 budget and the 27 billion baht extension was planned to be tendered in the latter half of 2013. The political crisis in the last three months of 2013 and early-2014 delayed any further progress of the project. The military coup of May 2014 resulted in a military administration which has decided not to fund the project in 2014.

In February 2015, the Thai Cabinet approved a budget for land appropriation with the expectation that the extension would be tendered later in 2015.[21]

Future Rayong (eastern seaboard) HSR

The ARL is intended to be the backbone of a future high speed rail line (HSR) to Chonburi and Rayong which was scheduled to be completed by 2018. The military coup of May 2014 subsequently resulted in military administrators deferring all HSR line proposals.


  3. 3.0 3.1 "Bangkok Airport Express to change city travel". Railway Gazette International. December 2005.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  4. 4.0 4.1 David Briginshaw (April 2005). "Work starts on link to Bangkok's new airport". International Railway Journal.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  5. "Removing 25 unusable Hopewell pillars to make way for the Airport Link". Prachachat Thurakij. 18 November 2004.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  7. 7.0 7.1, Pracha News, 16 March 2015
  8. 8.0 8.1
  9. 9.0 9.1 "รถไฟฟ้าด่วนเปิดเส้นทางใหม่ พญาไท – สุวรรณภูมิ พร้อมแถมเที่ยวเดินทางอีก 1 เที่ยวฟรี". State Railway of Thailand. Retrieved 9 May 2011.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  10. [1]"แอร์พอร์ตลิงก์" ยันไม่มีปัญหาขาดแคลนอะไหล่ ปลดล็อกจอดรับส่งที่มักกะสัน, The Manager Online, 14 February 2012
  11. Agents, airlines blame SRT for poor rail link service, The Nation, 8 August 2011
  12. Airport Link to expand check-ins, Bangkok Post, 16 November 2013
  13. Airport rail baggage check risks axe, Bangkok Post, 17 July 2014
  14. "Bangkok Desiro deliveries begin". Railway Gazette International. 10 September 2007.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  15. [2] แอร์พอร์ตลิงก์ชงบอร์ดซื้อรถใหม่ 7 ขบวน 4.2พันล้าน เตรียมเข็นล็อตแรกปี57, Pracha News, 16 May 2012
  16. [3] แพงเว่อร์คมนาคมรื้อ"ซีเมนส์"ดึง"จีน-ยุโรป"เสียบแอร์พอร์ตลิงก์, Pracha News, 18 June 2013
  17. 17.0 17.1 17.2 [4]
  18. [5]
  19. Single-airport policy ends. Don Mueang to be used for more budget flights, Bangkok Post, 16 March 2012
  20. Transport Ministry speeds up Airport Link extension; sees completion in 3 years, Thai News Agency, 4 October 2012
  21., Pracha News, 24 February 2015

External links