Express rail makes life easier for commuters between Bangkok and Suvarnabhumi Airport
These days you can get to Suvarnabhumi Airport from downtown Bangkok in quick time thanks to the Airport Rail Link (ARL), a rapid train ride on elevated tracks 28 kilometres long inaugurated last week. It can deliver you there in 30 minutes, or even half that time. For commuters, here are some vital tips. The ART comprises of a City Line and Express Line.
The City Line spans Phaya Thai district in the heart of Bangkok and Suvarnabhumi. With stops on the route, it connects the two points in 30 minutes, while the Express Line operates non-stop between neighbouring Makkasan to the airport, covering the distance in only 15 minutes. Both the lines operate 6am to midnight. Makkasan is the ARL terminus on Asok-Din Daeng Road.
Those arriving there by taxi or private car should proceed to the third floor from where it is convenient to haul luggage to the ticket counter and move on to the platform. But if you are taking the MRT subway, Exit 3 of its Phetchaburi stop is the nearest access point to Makkasan. But then you need to cross a road and railway line, after which walk some 200 metres to get to the Express Line’s platform.
The Makkasan station will soon have an airline check-in facility where passengers can leave their baggage, which will be delivered to them at the airport. The Express Line, operating at 30-minute intervals, is offering a promotional fare of 100 baht for a round-trip between the city and airport, but it is only good for the same day. As for the City Line, trains depart every 15 minutes.
The net result: the City Line, with stops along the route, seems busier than Express Line. To facilitate passenger inter-change between the BTS Skytain and the ARL a bridge has been built at Phaya Thai station connecting the two services. The ARL station at Phaya Thai has public toilets and a place for changing diapers for babies. Another station in the network equipped with such a facility is the one at Makkasan. The station at Ratchaprarop is handy for commuters in the shopping hubs of Ratchaprasong and Pratunam.
It has stairways on both sides connecting passengers to the road below, and an elevator and escalator to its west facing Indra Regent and Baiyoke hotels. On the western side of Ramkamhaeng Road, a stone’s throw from Khlong Tan intersection, is the next ARL station, close to the road, hence very convenient for commuters, as opposed to Hua Mak station, where they need to walk around 200 metres from Srinakarintara Road to access the station. Parking space is available at all ARL stations but inadequate, except for the Makkasan station where there is a parking facility which can accommodate 300 cars once it is completed. Until then, you can park there at random.
However, over-night parking is not allowed. All stations are well-equipped with escalators and elevators, handy for passengers with luggage in tow. Riding the City Line, passengers high on luggage should go for the head or tail car where there is plenty of space. Also available is a lost-and-found service, which I found handy.
As it turned out, I was able to retrieve my bag just an hour and quarter after having informed the authorities that I had lost it at Suvarnabhumi Airport. It was found and delivered to Phaya Thai station for me. During the ride, the announcement system keeps passengers informed of stops on the route with connections to trains run by the State Railway of Thailand (SRT), but the whole exercise seems futile given the distance separating ARL stations and those the SRT connects.
But if you do need to connect to SRT’s eastern line, best is get off at Ban Thap Chang station where the ARL and SRT stations sit next to each other.