It has taken more than four years, but Suvarnabhumi Airport now has a fully functional Airport Rail Link. People arriving in Thailand can now take an express train from the airport to downtown Bangkok in just only 15 minutes. Also this week saw the official opening of the check-in service at Makkasan Station. This now allows people to check-in their luggage before boarding the train in Bangkok and they then don’t need to worry about it until they arrive at their destination country. Sounds great, but this service is not going to be ideal or even convenient for everyone.
The Bangkok Post reported that on the first day that only 11 passengers and four bags were actually processed here. Not surprising as the check-in is only available for passengers of THAI International and Bangkok Airways. So, no good if you are going to fly THAI to say Chiang Mai. However, there are plans to increase more airlines at a later date. A secondary problem is that there is no easy access to Makkasan Station. There is an MRT underground station nearby but you have to drag your bags along uneven sidewalks to get there. Again there is a plan for a skybridge but it won’t be completed until mid-2011.
Up to now they have been doing trial runs. I went for a ride back in June and you can see my report over at MyThailandBlog.com. There are basically two lines; the City Line which is for local commuters and takes 30 minutes and the Express Line that takes only 15 minutes. And that is fast! The prices have also gone up now that the trial period is over. The City Line is from 15-45 baht and the Express Line is 150 baht. You can join the City Line at Phaya Thai Station [see MAP] and I am told that the skybridge there from the sky train has now been completed.
The problem with Bangkok is that there isn’t really a downtown area or even a city center. So, if you take the Airport Rail link to either Makkasan or Phaya Thai, you will probably have to change to other transport like BTS Skytrain, MRT Underground or even a taxi. The same for going to the airport. Most people will have to take a taxi to Makkasan as the BTS and MRT are not really that convenient for suitcases. But, if there are two or more of you, then you might as well go all the way to the airport in the taxi as the fare will be less than 300 baht. What do you think? Will you use the Airport Link?
(Top photo: Bangkok Post)