The Suvarnabhumi Airport Rail Link Express Line was an airport express rail link in Bangkok bridging downtown Bangkok from the Makkasan City Air Terminal and the new Suvarnabhumi Airport east of the city. The Makkasan City Air Terminal was envisioned to be the airport in the city with in-town check-in services, however, the sole airline which operated out of Makkasan City Air Terminal during this trip was only Thai Airways (with Bangkok Airways having pulled out already) and extremely low passenger numbers utilized the in-town check-in service through it throughout its lifetime. Baggage and passengers would be transported to Suvarnabhumi Airport by the Express Line, and the passenger would then pick-up his or her baggage at his or her destination airport.
Due to a perfect combination of factors including a lack in passenger demand, lack of spare parts for maintenance, and lack of rolling stock, the Suvarnabhumi Airport Rail Link Express Lines were suspended in September 2014 and haven’t been back ever since. The interior of Express Line sets have since been converted into City Line configurations and City Line frequencies have improved.
This trip was done on 13 July 2012, 3 years before RailTravel Station was launched, so I seek your understanding if the pictures are not up to usual standards since I had no plans to write about them when I took the trip 8 years ago.
The interior of the Makkasan City Air Terminal check-in hall. Yup, doesn’t take much to tell that there’s no demand for the Express Line or in-town check-in service with Thai Airways.
As I was not flying with Thai Airways, I only used the Makkasan City Air Terminal for the Express Line. Tickets can be purchased from the token vending machine.
The various tickets for the Suvarnabhumi Airport Rail Link. Then, the blue token was for a single journey on the City Line, the stored value card was for multiple journeys on the City Line, and the red token was for a single journey on the Express Line.
Today, the City Line stored value card still exists, but the tokens have been changed to a plain, black version.
The Express Line costs 150 Baht, but during my trip, they were offering a promotion at 90 Baht for a single and 150 Baht for a return to hopefully attract more passengers.
In comparison, the City Line single fare from Makkasan costs 35 Baht, so yeah it’s quite easy to understand why most people would just get on the City Line.
At Makkasan City Air Terminal after purchasing my ticket, I headed to the ticket gates to drop the token in and the token was taken by the fare gate immediately.
The empty Express Line platform at Makkasan City Air Terminal.
The route map of the Suvarnabhumi Airport Rail Link.
The red line is for the original Express Line (later known as Makkasan Express), and the added yellow line is for the added Phaya Thai Express to attract passengers transferring on to the BTS Skytrain.
Due to the track layout at Makkasan City Air Terminal, there could not be a combined Express Line service proceeding on to Phaya Thai as the Express Line line ended in Makkasan City Air Terminal. The original Express Line had it’s own track layout, and the Phaya Thai Express followed the City Line alignment throughout, with the occasional overtaking at Hua Mak.
From the Makkasan City Air Terminal Express Line platform, the City Line passes through it behind glass walls when departing the City Line platform towards Phaya Thai.
An incoming City Line train from Phaya Thai towards Suvarnabhumi Airport.
Approaching departure time, the Express Line platform filled up with a little bit more passengers.
A Phaya Thai Express train heading to Suvarnabhumi Airport via the City Line tracks.
Equipment for loading up baggage onto the Express Line train’s baggage car.
Another Express Line train operating on the Phaya Thai Express heading to Phaya Thai.
My Express Line train is finally arriving.
The interior of the Express Line Siemens Desiro Class 360/2 train.
A toilet is available on board the Express Line Siemens Desiro Class 360/2 train.
Folding seats are available outside the toilet. This area is also the only remaining evidence of the original Express Line interior configuration on the converted City Line configuration.
Alas, the toilet is out of use.
A better shot of the interior out in the daylight.
The interior is largely similar to the Class 360/2 Desiro used on TfL Rail (originally Heathrow Connect) services to Heathrow Airport, with a less dense seating layout.
The purple and yellow colour scheme itself felt similar to the Heathrow Express though, and I had a similar feeling to the Express Line when I first boarded it in London.
Passing by the Airport Rail Link maintenance depot.
Zooming past Ramkhamhaeng station.
Taking the centre bypass track through Hua Mak station.
Zooming past Hua Mak station.
Zooming past Ban Thap Chang station.
Passing over Motorway 9.
Overtaking the cars on the highway.
Suvarnabhumi Airport is in sight.
Slowing down at Lat Krabang station with the upcoming curve ahead to Suvarnabhumi Airport.
Turning right towards Suvarnabhumi Airport.
Heading down to the underground station at Suvarnabhumi Airport.
The non-stop journey on the Express Line from Makkasan City Air Terminal to Suvarnabhumi Airport took 17 minutes.
Once at Suvarnabhumi Airport, the Express Line train set gets ready for departure back to Makkasan City Air Terminal. Only 1 train set is used for the Makkasan Express at a 60 minute frequency, while 2 train sets are used for the Phaya Thai Express at 30 minute frequencies.
The Phaya Thai Express uses the opposite platform.
Heading up to the concourse.
Looking back at the Express Line platforms.
There are no ticket gates. Simply head on your way.
If heading in the opposite direction from Suvarnabhumi Airport, purchase your paper ticket from the makeshift counter before the travellator down. The Express Line platforms do not have ticket gates as only 1 was necessary at Makkasan City Air Terminal as it was the sole Express Line service, and the Phaya Thai Express was not in the original plan.
With the discounted fares and dual express services, separate paper tickets needed to be issued to make the Suvarnabhumi Airport Express Line platform a closed platform.
Heading up the travellator to the terminal building.
Here, I headed to the departure screen on where I should go to check-in for my Scoot TZ301 flight back to Singapore.
Overall, an excellent ride on board my private train car on the Suvarnabhumi Airport Rail Link Express Line, though it probably explains very clearly why the service could not be sustained and all trains run on the City Line now. On hindsight, I should have taken more trips with the Makkasan Express and Phaya Thai Express with the discounted fare while I had the chance.