The Plane Train

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     Plane train.png
ATL People Mover 2.jpg
Concourse A Platform
Type People mover
Locale Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport
Termini Domestic Baggage Claim/Ground Transportation
F Gates/Int'l Baggage Claim/Ground Transportation
Stations 8
Daily ridership 175,000 (in 2002)
Opening September 21, 1980
Owner Atlanta Department of Aviation
Operator(s) Bombardier Transportation
Character Serves sterile parts of the airport
Rolling stock 49 Bombardier Innovia APM 100 vehicles[1]
Line length 2.8 miles (4.5 km)
Highest elevation Underground
Route map

The Plane Train is an automated people mover (APM) system at Hartsfield–Jackson Atlanta International Airport. The system is the world's most heavily traveled airport APM system, with 64,000,000 riders in 2002.[2] The APM was designed to quickly transport passengers between Atlanta Airport's Main Terminal and the seven airside concourses, which include the hub for Delta Air Lines and a major focus of Southwest Airlines operations.

Originally not having an official name, on August 10, 2010, the automated people mover was named "The Plane Train". [3]


The interior of the Innovia APM 100 vehicles

The Plane Train opened along with the current airport terminal on September 21, 1980. The system was jointly built by Westinghouse and Adtranz, and originally used a fleet of Adtranz C-100 vehicles.

In September 1994, the Atlanta Airport opened Concourse E, the international terminal. Concourse E was constructed in preparation for the 1996 Summer Olympics, which were held in Atlanta. As part of the addition of Concourse E, the APM was extended to the new concourse, and trains were extended from three cars to four.[4]

In 2002, Bombardier Transportation, which had recently acquired Adtranz, replaced the system's original C-100 vehicles with new Bombardier Innovia APM 100 vehicles. There are 59 Innovia APM 100 vehicles in the system's fleet.[5]

In 2012, the Plane Train was extended beyond Concourse E to Concourse F, and the Maynard Holbrook Jackson, Jr. International Terminal. Ten vehicles were added to the system to accommodate the expansion.

Layout and operation[edit]

The interior of the system's tunnel

The Plane Train is in the secure area of the airport. The system has eight stations, one at each of Concourses A, B, C, D, E, and F (International Terminal), and two in the Domestic Terminal—one at Concourse T, which is also the station for passengers from the Domestic Terminal heading to Concourses A–F, and one for arriving passengers heading to Domestic Baggage Claim and Ground Transportation. The APM uses two tunnels beneath the centers of the concourse buildings, with one tunnel for each direction.

The Domestic Baggage Claim station, Concourse T station, Concourse E station (added in 1994), and Concourse F station (added in 2012) each have an island platform between the two tunnels, while stations at Concourses A, B, C, and D each have separate platforms servicing each tunnel. LCD displays announce the destination of the trains arriving at each platform, and the time of arrival for the next train. Each door on the platform also has a set of red lights that flash alternately to warn that the doors are closing.

Inside the trains, LED displays deliver station information in eight languages (English, French, German, Spanish, Japanese, Chinese, Arabic, and Korean). The 10 newest vehicles feature visual color LCD displays inside that indicate the next stop on a map. Audio announcements also deliver station information and warns passengers of the train's movements. The messages use the NATO phonetic alphabet to identify each concourse station. For example, the message announcing Concourse B says: "Welcome aboard the Plane Train. The next stop is for B Gates. B, as in Bravo." The one exception to this is Concourse D, which is identified by "David" rather than "Delta" to avoid confusion with Delta Air Lines, which operates its main hub at ATL (for the same reason, the Air Traffic Control Tower at Atlanta regularly uses "Dixie" as the spoken form of the letter D). While Delta does operate some flights on Concourse D, Concourse D is used principally for airlines other than Delta.

The audio announcements on the Plane Train have been delivered by five different voices throughout its history. Originally, the trains featured a computer-generated male voice. The original voice was later replaced with a recorded male voice in conjunction with the extension to Concourse E in 1994; at the same time, sound effects were added. In 2002, the voice was changed when the system's vehicles were replaced, and sound effects were removed. The 2002 recordings were provided by local voice talent Bill Murray[6] (not to be confused with actor/comedian Bill Murray). In 2006, the system's first female voice was introduced. The 2006 recordings were the first to use the phonetic alphabet, and were provided by the voice of Susan Bennett (who is best known today for being the voice of Siri on Apple's iPhone, and is the female voice of Delta Air Lines' gate boarding announcements at the airport).[7] The current announcements debuted in March 2012 and are provided by voice actress Sharon Feingold (who also voices the ATL Skytrain).[citation needed] The current recordings are the first not to use the word "concourse", and instead refer to the concourse stations by their gates ("A Gates", "B Gates", etc...). The current voice also announces the name of the train, as well as new announcements and the return of sound effects, including announcements for the International Terminal and Concourse F.

Despite the fact that the on-board voice has been changed throughout the years, the male voice from 1994–2002 is still used in the stations (including the Concourse F station) to alert passengers when the doors close, by stating, "Careful. Doors are closing and will not reopen. Please wait for the next train," after a chime plays.


See also[edit]

  • ATL Skytrain - An elevated automated people mover completed in 2009 located outside the airport's secure zone.


External links[edit]