Rail stations at Airports

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John Santos

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If you count Thruway buses, in 2019 I waited INSIDE the terminal at Las Vegas Airport for the Thruway bus to Kingman to catch the Chief. The driver came inside to fetch me.
 

NES28

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Eventually, the Charlotte-Atlanta high-speed rail line, which has an approved Tier 1 EIS, will be built. It should have stops in tunnels under the terminals at both CLT and ATL airports.
 

west point

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Cannot imagine tunnel bores under ATL airport. Before the present terminal was built the underground portions were all installed with wells every 25 feet that pumped for 18 months before any excavation was started. Very high-water table around that area.
 

NES28

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An interesting tidbit about ATL water table. Apparently, there is an engineering solution.
 

PRR 60

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There was a time when Amtrak served a major airport. This was service to a station in the airport terminal – not just nearby. It occurred in 1990 when Amtrak started service to the SEPTA stations in Philadelphia International Airport (PHL). As far as I know, it was the one and only time Amtrak had a stop in an airport terminal.

In late 1989, Midway Airlines (ML) established a hub operation at PHL airport (purchased from floundering Eastern Airlines). At the same time, Amtrak was struggling to build ridership on its Atlantic City service. In what was hoped would help both parties, Amtrak and Midway agreed to start a codeshare operation where Amtrak would provide connecting “flights” for Midway between its PHL airport hub and Atlantic City (then in the early years of legalized casino gambling). Three existing Philadelphia – Atlantic City trains were extended from 30th Street Station to the PHL airport stations via the NEC and the SEPTA airport line.

This was a true codeshare arrangement with Amtrak trains assigned ML flight numbers. For ML passengers, ticketing for both the train and plane was on ML stock and checked baggage was handled end-to-end. Checked baggage on the train was carried in an empty portion of one of the Amfleet coaches (there was lots of empty space on the lightly patronized Atlantic City trains). ML had a ticket and baggage counter at the Atlantic City Rail Terminal (airport code ZRA). Departing passengers would check in there, drop checked baggage and board the train heading for their on-going flight with no need to check in again at PHL. Atlantic City-bound ML passengers arriving at PHL were often surprised to find their connecting “flight” to Atlantic City was departing from the SEPTA train station.

Running Amtrak to the PHL airport via SEPTA was not as easy as one would think. The SEPTA line from the upper level of 30th Street to the airport is operationally separated from the Amtrak NEC. For Amtrak trains using the 30th Street lower level and the NEC to access the SEPTA airport line required use of a short connection called the “escape track.” As the name “escape track” suggests, the Amtrak/SEPTA connector was intended for irregular operation, not for scheduled service. It was very low speed with tight curve radius and no nearby interlocking on the NEC to facilitate crossovers. Using the escape track required some wrong way running on the NEC and manual dispatching by both Amtrak and SEPTA. Escape track use was a PITA for both railroads. Turned out they did not have to deal with it for very long.

Midway ran into serious financial issues and closed its PHL hub in the fall of 1990 thus ending Amtrak’s service to PHL airport just a few months after it started. Midway ceased all operation in 1991. Amtrak’s Atlantic City service went away in 1995 after multiple efforts to find a customer base (like the ML codeshare) failed. Philadelphia - Atlantic City rail service is now operated by NJ Transit. A continuing legacy of the Amtrak Atlantic City service is the joint ticketing arrangement between Amtrak and NJ Transit – the only such Amtrak – NJ Transit arrangement.
 

cirdan

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Exactly! This would not be the first time by a very very long shot that a tunnel was dug below the water table. Time to stretch ones imagination a bit I suppose.

It wouldn't be the first time that a tunnel has been dug below an operational airport runway either.

There's nothing that money can't buy. The bigger challenge is getting the money.

That said, and considering the situation in Atlanta, wouldn't it be easier/cheaper if a rail station or transportation hub were built at a peripheral location and the present existing gadgetbahn extended to serve it. The way the airport is built now you would probably have to use the gadgetbahn anyway as the train should serve all terminals and not just one.
 
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Exactly! This would not be the first time by a very very long shot that a tunnel was dug below the water table. Time to stretch ones imagination a bit I suppose.
Doesn’t the Airtrain at JFK fit that description, where it ducks under the taxiway?
 
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My suspicion is that any new airport stations (unless there is a truly massive airport somewhere, I'm talking globally here) will be one station that will funnel fliers through the security checkpoint rather than a specific terminal and intra/inter-terminal travel will be by gadgetbahns or people movers.
 

joelkfla

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My suspicion is that any new airport stations (unless there is a truly massive airport somewhere, I'm talking globally here) will be one station that will funnel fliers through the security checkpoint rather than a specific terminal and intra/inter-terminal travel will be by gadgetbahns or people movers.
Airport APM's are generally outside security. I know there are a few airports that have airside transportation between terminals, but I don't think it's very common.
 

jis

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Airport APM's are generally outside security. I know there are a few airports that have airside transportation between terminals, but I don't think it's very common.
Well, the following biggies with airside APMs that come to mind:

Orlando International, Washington Dulles, Denver International, Frankfurt International, Houston Intercontinental, among others. I don't think they are all that uncommon.

Of course Orlando now has both airside and landside.
 
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blueman271

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Actually, I'm not sure that the BWI Amtrak station is really "at the airport" as it requires waiting for a shuttle bus and a significant ride through traffic to get from the train station and the terminal. Infact, I'm not sure if there are any Amtrak stations where the station is actually located in the Airport terminal. The only airports in the US I know of that have any kind of rail stations at the terminal are Philadelphia (SEPTA regional rail), BWI (light rail), Chicago (MTA), San Fransisco (BART), Miami (Metro), and maybe New York-JFK if you count the Airtrain and Newark if you count the monorail. It would be nice if there were Amtrak stations right in the airport terminals, even better if Amtrak could codeshare with an airline and have their stop inside the security perimeter, maybe even with through-checking of baggage, but that would require a lot of effort.
The setup in Miami is exactly the same as Newark and JFK. To get to the airport from the local transit system one must ride a people mover that connects the two. In Miami it is called the MIA Mover.

I remember Metro at Burbank being an easy walk into the terminal. And maybe TriRail at Ft Lauderdale.

Every time I’ve taken off from Charlotte I think it would be so easy to add a stop for Piedmonts. Maybe after the new station is built downtown.
The connection from Ft Lauderdale airport to the Tri-Rail station requires a shuttle bus. The train station and airport are on opposite sides of I-95.
 

cirdan

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The connection from Ft Lauderdale airport to the Tri-Rail station requires a shuttle bus. The train station and airport are on opposite sides of I-95.

Whereas FEC / Brightline passes right by the airport (if not actually being technically within the perimeter) ... a missed opportunity?
 

jis

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Whereas FEC / Brightline passes right by the airport (if not actually being technically within the perimeter) ... a missed opportunity?
A station is planned at Fort Lauderdale Airport in conjunction with the North East Corridor project. It is designed to allow some Brightline trains to call there. It is unlikely that all Brightline trains will call there though. But it will be easy to take TriRail Coastal Service one stop to Fort Lauderdale and catch Brightline there.
 

joelkfla

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Well, the following biggies with airside APMs that come to mind:

Orlando International, Washington Dulles, Denver International, Frankfurt International, Houston Intercontinental, among others. I don't think they are all that uncommon.

Of course Orlandoi now has both airside and landside.
I was talking about airside APM's between terminals, as the PP seemed to be suggesting putting a security checkpoint for the entire airport at a train station.

Orlando currently has one active terminal building; the APM's are just shuttles to the satellite airside pods. IIRC, you can't even transfer between pods that share security, because the shuttle dumps you outside security at the terminal. (Maybe that depends on which of the 2 shuttle tracks you're on.) When Terminal C opens, the APM between it and the existing terminal will be outside security.

I know there are airports with terminal transfers inside security, but I don't do a whole lot of flying, and I don't know the set-up of the others you listed. JFK & NWK APM's are outside security; I don't know whether they also have an airside shuttle bus. I think in some cases, airside shuttles are just between terminals or concourses used by a single airline with a major hub at the airport.
 

jebr

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I was talking about airside APM's between terminals, as the PP seemed to be suggesting putting a security checkpoint for the entire airport at a train station.

I guess it depends on what you define as a "terminal." Denver has a centralized check-in area, but the three different terminal buildings are connected via APMs inside security. Atlanta's similar (though the international check-in area is separate, but also connected airside with the full terminals' APM,) as is Las Vegas. I've never been to Orlando, so I don't know how that would differ from those (or from JFK where the terminals are connected landside.) Maybe it's JFK's lack of a centralized check-in area for most airlines? But yes, you'd probably need a centralized check-in area with baggage drop (similar to DEN or MCO) for it to work well, since otherwise people would need to stay landside until they were able to check in and drop off their bags.
 

jis

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I know there are airports with terminal transfers inside security, but I don't do a whole lot of flying, and I don't know the set-up of the others you listed. JFK & NWK APM's are outside security; I don't know whether they also have an airside shuttle bus. I think in some cases, airside shuttles are just between terminals or concourses used by a single airline with a major hub at the airport.
OK. I just happen to have listed airports each of which I have frequented. I am going to desist from hairsplitting about terminals, pods and what not, since it is pretty pointless IMHO.

United has an airside shuttle bus connecting at least A and C at Newark. I don't know about JFK. I have not used it in dogs years.

In any case I will leave you to your thoughts :D
 

DCAKen

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I was talking about airside APM's between terminals, as the PP seemed to be suggesting putting a security checkpoint for the entire airport at a train station.

Orlando currently has one active terminal building; the APM's are just shuttles to the satellite airside pods. IIRC, you can't even transfer between pods that share security, because the shuttle dumps you outside security at the terminal. (Maybe that depends on which of the 2 shuttle tracks you're on.) When Terminal C opens, the APM between it and the existing terminal will be outside security.

I know there are airports with terminal transfers inside security, but I don't do a whole lot of flying, and I don't know the set-up of the others you listed. JFK & NWK APM's are outside security; I don't know whether they also have an airside shuttle bus. I think in some cases, airside shuttles are just between terminals or concourses used by a single airline with a major hub at the airport.

DFW has multiple terminals (each with their own security checkpoints) that are connected by the SkyLink system that is inside security.
 

TheCrescent

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I see that there is a VRE rail line at Reagan National Airport, just outside the entrance.

Maybe Amtrak should focus on building stations at airports generally, and working with airlines to coordinate schedules and ticketing. With a pilot shortage, perhaps airlines would be more open to this than before. I would think that getting funding for station construction might be obtainable from airport construction funds in some cases.
 

jis

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It's not a particularly easy way for people to transfer from the VRE station to DCA, with at least a mile-long roundabout walk. A proposed pedestrian bridge would make this easier.
Until the pedestrian bridge comes to pass, one could avoid the very long walk by a considerably shorter long walk ( :) ) by transferring to WMATA Blue or Yellow Line at Crystal City and take it one stop to National Airport.
 

crescent-zephyr

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Airport APM's are generally outside security. I know there are a few airports that have airside transportation between terminals, but I don't think it's very common.

I think they are generally inside security. At least in my experience.

But they can certainly be built either way depending on the needs of the system.

Most major airports require long walks and / or a ride on a people mover to get to terminal / gate. Saying that same type of walk and / or ride makes a rail station “separate” from the airport is silly.

We need more intermodal transit connections in this country. It makes so much sense.
 
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