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Tuesday, 18 October 2011

Suvarnabhumi Airport Link in Bangkok

Suvarnabhumi Airport Link in Bangkok

Bangkok transport had been widened with the Suvarnabhumi Airport Link, officially opened late August this year. After my reports and experiences with the Sky-train and subway systems in Bangkok, it's now the first time that I rode the airport link and can report about it.

The Airport train link is still rather small, it's the red/blue in the middle, right hand side

The system has a very busy city line and two very quiet express trains, one going from Suvarnabhumi airport to the Makkasan station in just 15 minutes, where you can change to the subway system, Asoke/Sukhumvit is just one station away, here you can change again to the Sky train. The other express train goes to Phaya Thai, where you can connect to the sky train system. Make sure you hop on the right train at the airport, there are first of all separate entries for the city line and the express trains, once you're at the express train platform, there are two trains waiting, take the correct one, either to Makkasan or Phaya Thai.

Inside the train

The train ride is very convenient and very fast, 15 minutes to the Makkasan station is very fast indeed, compared to a taxi. A round trip ticket was just 150,-THB. For a single traveler an ideal price and fast. I haven't figured out how frequently the express trains ride though, my impression is about every half hour.

At the crossing towards the Petchaburi subway system, under the big promotional board/sign, about 100 meters

Now the kicker comes. When the Makkasan terminal was build, near the Petchaburi subway station, no direct or underground walking connection was made. You're supposed to walk out of the Makkasan station, which is a bit of a walk, once you're outside of the station you need to walk about 500 meters under the actual link line, so you're covered in case it rains but than at a crossing you need to hang a right with another 100 meters to go to the subway entry.

The same crossing, outside Makkasan station, walk to about halfway the station

With luggage this is extremely inconvenient and I can't see this airport link becoming a big success, since only people with hand luggage or very little luggage will use this means of transportation to this station.

Despite a fairly impressive and big check in station at the air link Makkasan station for various airlines, which was still closed by the way.

I did walk and the ticket to Asoke was just 15,-THB, so for a mere 180,-THB I travelled up and down from the airport to Sukhumvit road, with just another 20,-THB motorbike ride from Sukhumvit/Asoke station to the S31 hotel where I stayed.

Train platform at Makkasan station

If you have hardly any luggage or just carry on, by all means, use the airport link, it will be convenient enough, despite the 'cock up' at Makkasan station having to walk between two connecting stations. Strangely enough, from Makkasan to the subway station everything was clearly indicated and signs were everywhere, pointing you in the right direction, however, from the subway station to the Makkasan Airport link station there's not a single sign to be found.

The Makkasan station

I can only hope that a solution will be found for the current transfer situation at Makkasan and I hope that soon I will have the opportunity to check out the Phaya Thai situation as well, and see for myself how the connection between the two stations and operating systems is there.

That's another sore pint by the way, each time you change system,either between sky train, subway or airport link, you will need to buy a new ticket since they're all operated by different owners! Another notch down on the convenient scale!

The current stations on display inside the train

It worked fine for me this time around, but with a bigger group of travelers or with more luggage (I just had hand luggage this time) it becomes either too expensive or too inconvenient.

The potential is there, with a fast train ride from almost downtown to the airport and a big check in area at Makkasan, now let's see if they can work out the kinks!


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