Capital Airport Express

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Capital Airport Express[1]
BJS Capital Airport Express icon.svg
L1-105 leaving Terminal 3 (20210108145502).jpg
A Capital Airport Express train leaving Terminal 3 station with a landing Boeing 737-700 on the background
Other name(s)L1 (planned name)
LocaleDongcheng, Chaoyang, and Shunyi districts
TerminiTerminal 3 / Terminal 2
Dongzhi Men
TypeAirport rail link
SystemBeijing Subway
Operator(s)Beijing Capital Metro Corp., Ltd.
Rolling stock4-car Type LB (QKZ5)
Daily ridership31,300 (2014 Avg.)
49,100 (2014 Peak)[2]
Line length28.1 kilometres (17.5 mi)
Track gauge1,435 mm (4 ft 8 12 in)
Operating speed110 km/h[3]
Route map

Terminal 2
Terminal 3
Tianzhu depot
Wenyu River
Jingshen HSR crossing
Beixiao River
Line 14 crossing
Ba River
Left arrow line 10 outer
Sanyuan Qiao
Line 10 Line 12 (to be opened 2021)
Left arrow line 12 Sijiqing
line 10 inner Right arrow
Dongzhi Men
Left arrow outer-inner Right arrow
Beixinqiao (to be opened 2021)
Capital Airport Express
Simplified Chinese北京地铁首都机场线
Traditional Chinese北京地鐵首都機場線

The Capital Airport Express[1] of the Beijing Subway (Chinese: 北京地铁首都机场线[1]; pinyin: Běijīng Dìtiě Shǒudū Jīchǎng Xiàn), also known by the initials ABC, Airport Beijing City, is an airport rail link from Dongzhimen station to the Beijing Capital International Airport.[4] The line became operational on July 19, 2008. On subway maps, the Capital Airport Express' color is magnolia.


Capital Airport Express trains first depart Dongzhi Men, stop at Sanyuan Qiao, then stop at Terminal 3. Trains then reverse at Terminal 3 and head to Terminal 2. Trains reverse again and proceed to Dongzhimen, stopping at Sanyuanqiao along the way.

A one-way fare on the Capital Airport Express costs RMB(¥) 25, with no free transfers from other lines.[5]


Station Name Connections Nearby Bus Stops Time Distance
English Chinese
Beixinqiao 北新桥  5  Dongcheng
Dongzhi Men 东直门  2   13  3 18 24 44 75 106 107 117 123 130 132 135 142 200 359 401 404 413 416 418 612 850 850快 852 915 915快 916 916快 918 935 935快 942快 966 980 980快 夜6 夜10 夜20 夜32 0:00 0.000 0.000
Sanyuan Qiao 三元桥  10  18 95 104 132 300 300快 302 359 368 379 401 403 404 419 536 604 641 671 847 850 850快 852 915 915快 916 916快 918 935 935快 939 980 980快 985 夜18 夜30 0:04 3.022 3.022 Chaoyang
Terminal 3 3号航站楼 Beijing Capital International Airport PEK 0:22 18.322 21.344 Shunyi
Terminal 2 2号航站楼 Beijing Capital International Airport PEK 0:36 7.243 28.587 Chaoyang


The Airport Express was originally conceived to run non-stop between Dongzhimen and the Capital Airport. An intermediate stop at Sanyuanqiao was subsequently added for the convenience of passengers connecting to Line 10.[7][8]

Designers for the new line considered several types of technology for the Airport Express, including:

The linear motor option was ultimately decided upon.[7][9]

Planning accelerated after the city won the bid to host the 2008 Summer Olympic Games, which included a promise to connect the airport to the Olympic village by subway.[7] The project cost ¥5.4bn and involved a consortium of companies led by the Beijing Dongzhimen Airport Express Rail Company.[10]

The project operated under a tight delivery schedule, initially with very limited public disclosure.[10][11] During construction, officials from both the Beijing Dongzhimen Airport Express Rail Co. and Bombardier expressed concerns about whether the project would be completed, as originally planned, by the end of 2007, with test operations to start in April 2008.[11] At the time, Zhang Jianwei, chief country representative for Bombardier, called the short timetable for a project of this type unprecedented. Zhang expressed confidence that Bombardier would meet its responsibilities as its Chinese contractors routinely worked 24 hours a day, something not possible in other countries. He also noted, however, that even if the line were to open on time, the need for haste could compromise the quality of construction.[11]

There was also considerable uncertainty over the progress of the project, the identity of contractors and its operational arrangement. Construction was reported to have begun on June 14, 2005, but aspects of the project still awaited the central government's approval.[12] Local media reported in January 2005 that the train supplier had been “basically decided”, but was not officially selected and announced until March 2006.[11]

Track-laying began in March 2007 and was completed by November 2007.[13] Testing using empty trains commenced in April 2008 and official operations started on July 19 of that year, in time for the opening of the Summer Olympic Games on August 8, 2008.[14][15] The line delivered 2.17 million rides in 2008.[16]

Segment Commencement Length Station(s) Name
Dongzhimen — Terminal 3/Terminal 2 19 July 2008 28.1 km (17.46 mi) 4 Capital Airport Express (initial phase)

Infrastructure and rolling stock[edit]

The Airport Express line adopts Advanced Rapid Transit (since renamed Innovia Metro) technology from Bombardier Transportation, with a fleet of 10 QKZ5 trains assembled by Changchun Railway Vehicles (CRV, now part of CRRC Corporation) under a technology transfer agreement.[17] The vehicles were based on those used on AirTrain JFK in New York City, with Bombardier providing bogies as well as the electrical, propulsion and brake systems, which were assembled by CRV.

As with the majority of Beijing Subway trains, the Airport Express trains use a 750 V third rail power supply, and have a maximum speed of 110 kilometers per hour.[3] Trains are configured in fixed sets of four cars with a total of 230 seats, arranged in a longitudinal layout to maximize their quantity.

The line uses Alstom's "Urbalis" communications-based train control system, which is capable of driving trains automatically, although staff still monitor the trains from the front (Grade of Automation level 2).[18] At the time of opening, this system made the Airport Express the first rapid transit line with automated operation in China, and the second such rail line of any kind, after the people mover in Terminal 3 at the airport, which was also supplied by Bombardier.[11]

Model Image Manufacturer Year Built Amount in Service Fleet Numbers Depot
QKZ5 北京机场线车辆.JPG CRRC Changchun Railway Vehicles
Bombardier Transportation
2007 10 L1 101–L1 110 Tianzhu

Future Development[edit]

Western extension to Beixinqiao[edit]

An 1.9-kilometre (1.2 mi) extension to Beixinqiao, which would provide an interchange with Line 5, is expected to enter operation in 2021.[19][20]


In the short term, there is little scope to increase the Airport Express line's capacity. The 4-car train sets used on the line have significantly lower capacity than those on other Beijing subway lines, which operate 6-car or 8-car train sets.[21][22] Also, the Airport Express track design requires trains from Terminal 3 to first travel to Terminal 2 before returning to the city. If trains were able to return directly from Terminal 3 to the city the capacity on the route could be increased.

Reserved space for an infill station at Wangjing Nan (S), where the Airport Express intersects with Line 14, is also part of long-term plans.[23][better source needed]


See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b c "改名了!机场线更名为首都机场线". 2019-09-24.
  2. ^ (Chinese) Retrieved 2012-04-28 "北京地铁昨天全路网日客运量首破800万高达839.1万人次". Beijing Subway Corporation. 2012-04-28.
  3. ^ a b "首都机场快速轨道线首列直线电机车辆在长春下线". 2007-09-07. 最高运行速度110公里/小时
  4. ^ 地铁机场线今日开通 最大时速110公里用男乘务员 (in Chinese). Xinhua News. 2008-07-19.
  5. ^ "Express Railway" Accessed 2014-06-05
  6. ^ "首都机场线路网车站站间距信息". Retrieved 2020-04-29.
  7. ^ a b c (Chinese) "全线运营点对点不建磁悬浮 机场轨道明年动工" 北京青年报 2003-12-14 [2012-08-25.
  8. ^ 北京机场轨道线再掀面纱 地下通道与十号线连接. 2005-03-25 [2012-08-25].
  9. ^ 5.0 5.1 北京市市政工程设计研究总院 北京市勘察设计研究院有限公司本卷主编.. 《再塑北京——市政与交通工程》. Beijing: 中国建筑工业出版社 [China Architectural and Industrial Press]. 2008. pp. 141-157. ISBN 978-7-112-09885-9.
  10. ^ a b "Beijing Olympic Village Rail Link Construction, China" Retrieved [2012-12-29
  11. ^ a b c d e Mure Dickie, "Fears over Beijing Olympic rail link" Financial Times 2006-08-18 Retrieved [2012-12-29]
  12. ^ 首都机场快速轨道首站开建 9月1日全线开工. 2005-06-15 [2012-08-25].
  13. ^ "Track laying completed for Beijing Subway Airport Line" The Official Website of the Beijing 2008 Olympic Games Archived 2009-02-03 at the Wayback Machine
  14. ^ 首都机场轨道线试运行 市区18分钟内可达机场. 2008-04-27 [2012-08-25].
  15. ^ 北京地铁周末“三线齐发” 机场线票价尚未公布. 2008-07-18 [2012-08-25].
  16. ^ 北京地铁2008年运送乘客突破12亿人次 (in Chinese). Beijing Morning News. 2009-01-02.
  17. ^ "Bombardier Awarded Contract in China for the Beijing Capital International Airport Link With Connection to Summer 2008 Olympic Games Village" Business Wire Mar. 20, 2006
  18. ^ ^ 北京机场线将建无人驾驶地铁. 2006-08-08 [2012-08-25].
  19. ^ "16号线中段今年有望开通". 2020-01-12. 预计2021年底机场线西延实现通车 (The western extension of Capital Airport Express will open in 2021)
  20. ^
  21. ^ ^ a b "Linear Motor Commuter for Beijing" CNR website Accessed Mar. 27, 2010
  22. ^ "4条地铁线将装屏蔽门 (in Chinese). 法制晚报. 2010-01-20.
  23. ^

External links[edit]