Airport Express (MTR)
An Airport Express train
|Locale||Districts: Central and Western, Yau Tsim Mong, Kwai Tsing, Islands|
|Ridership||45,000 daily average (April 2015)|
|Opened||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 evening, and every 12 minutes after 11:28 pm, 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 (81 mph).
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 Mass Transit Railway Corporation to build an express line to the airport called the Lantau Airport Railway (LAR). 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. It cost $35.1 billion. 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 initial journey time 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 offers more spacious and comfortable trains and stations than other MTR services. On the trains, 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.
Airport Express offers a service called In-Town Check-In at at the Hong Kong and Kowloon stations. Passengers on flights with selected airlines can check in at these stations, receive their boarding passes, drop off their luggage, and travel to the airport unencumbered by heavy baggage. The stations offer luggage trolleys and use wide fare gates to permit their passage. To facilitate In-Town Check-In, each train has a special baggage car and the luggage is scanned in bulk by a Mechanised Automatic Explosive Detection System.
Free porter service is also available at all stations except AsiaWorld–Expo to help passengers with baggage.
Shuttle bus service
The Airport Express Shuttle bus is a free 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 must 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.
The Airport Express visual identity, which includes the 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. The rate for a return ticket with one-month validity is HK$180. Tickets are available from all MTR stations and the MTR online booking service.
There are various discounts available, such as Group Ticket Discount, free taxi connections, Rewarding programme, Asia Miles programme, etc. Passengers may also buy discounted tickets from some local travel agents. Discounts are available for groups of two to four people. Hong Kong residents can also obtain discount coupons, such as those sent from credit card companies. Discounted fares are available to airport staff to encourage commuting aboard the Airport Express.
Same-day return discount will be given to Octopus Card users who have stayed in AsiaWorld–Expo for at least two 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.
Airport Express passengers using Octopus cards can connect the MTR urban lines for free, right before or after the Airport Express journey.
In March 2010 the MTR began 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.
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.
Airport Express trains depart every 10 minutes until 11:28 pm, when the frequency is reduced to once every 12 minutes. Service ceases at 00:48 am. The Airport Express, along with other MTR metro lines, is monitored by the Operations Control Centre in Tsing Yi.
The Airport Express is served by 11 A-Stock trains built and assembled by Construcciones y Auxiliar de Ferrocarriles in Spain while Adtranz contributed control and traction equipment. These trains were made up of seven cars until 2003. To cope with the extra traffic demand derived from the opening of AsiaWorld-Expo station, an additional car was added to each train to form a total of eight cars. If future demand rises, trains on the AEL are capable of running with ten cars. In service, the trains travel at a maximum speed of 135 km/h. The train interiors were refurbished after ten years in service, with the grey seat covers being replaced with purple and green ones, and a new indigo carpet installed.
|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
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