DFW International Airport Debuts World’s Largest Airport People Mover System
Skylink Opens to the Traveling Public after Five Years of Planning and Construction; High School Band Plays “Celebration” to Start Operations
DFW INTERNATIONAL AIRPORT, Texas (May 21, 2005) — With a musical fanfare befitting a state-of-the-art transit system, Skylink, the world’s largest airport people mover began service to the traveling public at DFW International Airport today, forever changing the way travelers use the world’s third-busiest airport.
The Skylink automated people mover system debuted today with the 40-member Fort Worth Carter-Riverside High School band marching off the train playing Kool & the Gang’s “Celebration” and breaking through a commemorative banner. Airport Ambassadors tossed confetti and the Southlake Carroll High School Emerald Belles drill team cheered. In honor of Armed Forces Day, DFW also invited U.S. service men and women participating in the military’s R&R program to join the festivities.
Today’s opening day ceremonies caps a remarkable 5-year construction program that offers DFW passengers the ability to connect between flights that are less than 30- minutes apart – a vital link for air carriers and travelers.
“This is a day our passengers have been waiting for a long, long time and now we have a new world-class people mover to get around our world-class airport,” said Jeff Fegan, CEO of DFW International Airport. “And later this summer, Skylink will begin serving our new International Terminal D. All of these additions to DFW are making our region an even greater magnet for international tourism and business.”
Skylink will zip passengers in both directions at speeds up to 35 miles per hour on its elevated guideways. Skylink will initially be able to shuttle 5,000 passengers per hour per direction. When the system is expanded to capacity, Skylink will be capable of transporting 8,000 passengers per direction per hour.
Skylink train cars are connected to Airport terminals via 4.81 miles of guideway, elevated at an average of 50 feet. Guideway construction began in the fall of 1999 and took place with limited interruption of airline traffic at the world’s third-busiest Airport. Contractors worked during overnight hours for 3 years – when airline gates were unused – arriving on site, completing work and removing equipment each evening before returning gates to an airline.
“To build this massive of a system on the world’s third busiest airfield and finish on time and on budget is certainly a tribute to the thousands of men and women who worked tirelessly to make it happen,“ said Clay Paslay, DFW’s executive vice president of airport development. “This construction was done around multi-million dollar aircraft in the middle of the night and in all kinds of weather. And the result is a significantly improved passenger experience at our Airport, offering fast connections and dramatic aerial views of the Airport and our surrounding communities.”
An average ride time on Skylink is anticipated to be five minutes, while the longest ride is anticipated to be 9 minutes. Because the people mover is bi-directional, passengers will no longer need to ride a significant portion of the loop to get to their destination. If a passenger wanted to ride the loop for fun it would take approximately 18 minutes to complete one circuit.
Because of Skylink’s speed and frequency, DFW Airport travelers will be able to visit other terminals, concession areas and public art displays across the Airport during longer layovers. This will greatly change the way passengers use the Airport.
The Skylink system is located on the air side of each terminal, beyond the security checkpoints. Each terminal has two Skylink stations located on the north and south ends of the terminal. The four-story, 480-foot long stations feature soaring ceilings of 76 feet and unique floor art designed by local artists and fabricated in terrazzo by a Dallas-based company.
Skylink stations were built into existing Terminals A, B, C and E. Stations were incorporated into the interior design of the new International Terminal D. Skylink trains will pass through the center of the new terminal, allowing riders a glimpse inside. Travelers in the concessions villages, ticketing halls and the international arrivals hall will have an exciting view of the train cars gliding through the structure.
Each Skylink train car will accommodate up to 69 passengers and their carry-on luggage. The trains run on rubber tires to provide an ultra-quiet and smooth ride.
Skylink features an advanced train control system that automatically guides the movement of the train cars along the guideway. This innovative moving block technology allows a greater degree of flexibility during peak passenger demand periods. Two control centers are located at the airport, allowing DFW staff to control the unmanned cars on the guideway or en route to the maintenance facility.
The train car shells were fabricated in Scotland, while the mechanical elements were manufactured and installed in Pittsburgh. Interior finish-out and exterior detailing were completed at DFW.
The Airport Train system will be decommissioned about a month after the opening of Skylink, ending a successful 31-year run. From its inception with the debut of the Airport in 1974, the Airport Train, originally known as AirTrans and later the American Airlines TrAAin, transported a quarter of a billion passengers between DFW’s four terminals and employee facilities, logging a total of 97 million miles on its fleet.