Airport Express (MTR)
An Airport Express train
|Locale||Districts: Central and Western, Yau Tsim Mong, Kwai Tsing, Islands|
|Ridership||33,000 daily average (2010)|
|Opening||6 July 1998|
|Line length||35.3 km (21.9 mi)|
|Track gauge||1,432 mm (4 ft 8 3⁄8 in)|
|Electrification||1.5 kV DC|
The Airport Express is one of the lines of the Mass Transit Railway (MTR) serving Hong Kong. It links the principal urban areas of Hong Kong to Hong Kong International Airport and the associated AsiaWorld-Expo exhibition and convention centre.
Although a part of the MTR system, the Airport Express is not primarily a rapid transit or metro line. Instead, it provides premium fare express service to and from the airport and exhibition centre every 10 minutes during daytime and night/ every 12 minutes at midnight, using specially designed rolling stock intended to provide similar levels of comfort to that found on an airliner. The average maximum speed between stations is 130 kilometres per hour.
The Airport Express line is the only rail link to the airport's terminal area. However, it is paralleled for most of its length by the Tung Chung Line, a more traditional rapid transit line. The Tung Chung line diverges from the Airport Express line just south of the channel between Lantau Island and Chek Lap Kok island (on which the airport was constructed), and terminates in the adjacent Tung Chung new town. From here bus links serve the various areas of the airport, including the passenger terminals.
The journey from Hong Kong Station to the airport takes 24 minutes. The line is coloured teal on MTR system maps.
In October 1989, the Hong Kong government decided to replace the over-crowded Kai Tak Airport, located in Kowloon, with a new airport to be constructed at Chek Lap Kok. The government also invited the MTR, then called the MTRC, to build an express line to the airport called the Lantau Airport Railway. The project did not begin until the Chinese government and the British government settled financial and land disagreements in November 1994.
The Lantau Airport Railway was developed as two separate MTR lines, the Tung Chung Line and the Airport Express, with the two lines sharing tracks for parts of their journey. The Airport Express began service on 6 July 1998, the same date as the new Hong Kong International Airport, and initially terminated at Airport Station. The journey time on the initial line was 23 minutes.
With the opening of Sunny Bay Station on the adjacent Tung Chung Line in June 2005, the total journey time between the Airport and Hong Kong Stations increased to 24 minutes. With the opening of AsiaWorld-Expo, Airport Express was extended to AsiaWorld-Expo Station on 20 December 2005. The journey time to this station from Hong Kong is 28 minutes.
The Airport Express line runs from Hong Kong Station in the Central and Western District, crossing under the harbour to West Kowloon, where it serves Kowloon Station. The line then runs along the western side of the Kowloon peninsula, and crosses by bridge to Tsing Yi Island where it serves Tsing Yi Station. From here the line crosses the major Tsing Ma Bridge before running along the northern shore of Lantau Island to Airport Station before terminating at AsiaWorld-Expo Station.
The line shares tracks with the Tung Chung Line in the cross-harbour tunnel between Hong Kong and Kowloon stations, and again from Tsing Yi station for most of the rest of its route. It runs on separate tracks alongside the Tung Chung line between Kowloon and Tsing Yi, and in the area of Sunny Bay Station (only served by Tung Chung line trains) on the northern coast of Lantau Island. Just before reaching the airport, the two lines diverge at a flying junction. The two lines have their own tracks and platforms at all stations.
The Airport Express features a more comfortable environment than the MTR's other operations and is designed specifically for airline passengers. There is a baggage hold beside each door, and each seat is equipped with in-seat loudspeakers for listening to current news, advertisements and announcements showing on the LCD television in front. The Airport Express has a more spacious environment and more passenger-friendly compartments and stations.
Airport Express passengers can check-in for flights for selected airlines and receive boarding passes for flights at the Hong Kong and Kowloon Stations, with no extra cost. There are free Airport Express shuttle bus services at the Hong Kong and Kowloon Stations, travelling to several major hotels in Hong Kong Island, Yau Tsim Mong District, and also to Hung Hom Station. Free porter service is also available at all stations except AsiaWorld-Expo to help passengers with baggage.
The Airport Express visual identity, which includes logo, vehicle livery, signage, route maps and passenger information, was created in 1999 by Lloyd Northover, the British design consultancy founded by John Lloyd and Jim Northover.
Fares for the Airport Express are substantially higher than main line fares. Single trips from the Hong Kong, Kowloon and Tsing Yi Stations to Airport Station (and vice-versa) cost HK$100, HK$90 and HK$60 respectively. Apart from single tickets, same-day return tickets (same price as a single), and one-month return tickets are also available. Some of these tickets are available from all MTR stations and MTR online booking service.
As of December 2012, a trip from Hong Kong Station to the Airport or AsiaWorld-Expo Station costs HK$100, $50 concessionary rate. The rate for a one-month return ticket is HK$180. Discounts are available for group travellers of 2–4. Hong Kong residents can also obtain discount coupons, such as those sent from credit card companies.
Same-day return discount will be given to Octopus Card users who have stayed in AsiaWorld-Expo for at least 2 hours. The discounted fare costs HK$72 from Hong Kong Station, and includes free connection to other MTR lines. A single-trip from Airport to AsiaWorld-Expo station is HK$5.
The Airport Station does not have any turnstiles or gate barriers separating the paid and unpaid zones of the station.
Airport Express passengers using Octopus cards can connect the MTR urban lines for free, right before or after the Airport Express journey.
There are various promotions as well, such as Group Ticket Discount, free taxi connections, Rewarding program, Asia Miles program, etc. Passengers may also buy discounted tickets from some local travel agents.
In March 2010 the MTR began moves to phase out the magnetic tickets used for single, group, and multiple journey tickets, replacing them with new "smart tickets" that contain a memory chip. The new system was in full operation by 5 June 2010. These new tickets are advertised as:
- "touch" the smart tickets to the processor on the entry gates,
- "go" on their way, and
- "recycle" the used tickets by dropping it at recycle boxes at Airport Express stations.
Due to the high fares and small catchment areas of the Airport Express stations; some travellers may instead choose to either use the cheaper, local Tung Chung Line combined with a bus route, or make their entire journey by bus. Patronage on the Airport Express is cannibalised by the Tung Chung Line running mostly on the same track.
A standard single journey ticket towards Asia-World Expo
Morning Express Service
The Morning Express Service is a special promotional service, allowing passengers from Tsing Yi and Kowloon stations to travel to Hong Kong Station every day (excluding Sundays and public holidays) from 7am to 10am for HK$20.
This is a list of all the stations on the Airport Express.
|AsiaWorld-Expo||Islands||20 December 2005|
|Airport||6 July 1998|
|Tsing Yi||Kwai Tsing||█ Tung Chung Line|
|Kowloon||Yau Tsim Mong|
|Hong Kong||Central and Western||█ Tung Chung Line
Central Station for █ Tsuen Wan Line and █ Island Line
Airport Express Shuttle Bus Service
The Airport Express Shuttle-bus is a complimentary add-on service provided exclusively for Airport Express passengers travelling between Hong Kong or Kowloon station and major hotels and railway interchanges.
Before boarding, proof of eligibility needs to be shown including Airport Express train ticket (Single Journey, Same Day Return, Round Trip, Airport Express Travel Pass), Airline ticket / boarding pass, Airport Staff Octopus card, AsiaWorld-Expo entry pass or event ticket.
Two bus companies offer airport-connection bus services with lower prices and greater coverage of local destinations.
- "Daily average patronage and train loading on MTR Railway Lines in 2005 to 2010". HKSAR Government. 8 June 2011. Retrieved 10 February 2014.
- "Information Update – July 2010". travel2hk.com. Retrieved 11 December 2010.
- MTR Corporation (23 March 2010). "Media Release: Airport Express Tickets Go "Smart"". www.mtr.com.hk. Retrieved 11 December 2010.
- Yeung, Rikkie (2008). Moving Millions: The Commercial Success and Political Controversies of Hong Kong's Railways. Hong Kong: Hong Kong University Press. ISBN 978-962-209-963-0.
- Press release with information regarding Airport Express
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