Following on from the Tung Chung Line, I’ll move onto the Airport Express line, with the full set of photos here. As previously described, the line shares track with the suburban service but skips a lot of the stations.
After the junction at Tung Chung it crosses a bridge to the island of Chek Lap Kok where the airport is located, then soon reaches the Airport station.
AsiaWorld-Expo forms the terminus of the line, being the next station after the airport, but still on the same island.
However, the main attraction of the Airport Express service is the provision of In Town Check In for passengers heading out to the airport: before boarding the train you can check in your baggage and receive your boarding pass from the airline counters at the railway station, so you don’t need to worry about your bags until the airport luggage reclaim at your final destination.
You pay for your journey by purchasing a single journey ticket, or using your Octopus card. The In Town Check In service is included in the cost of your train journey, as is free pickup and dropoff by minibus from various Hong Kong Island and Kowloon hotels.
If you use an Octopus card, it deducts the fare at the entry to the In Town Check In counters, and authorises your card so you can enter the platform downstairs. You can also just hop straight onto a train, but given the price premium charged for the Airport Express, you might as well just catch a cheaper bus to the airport. Here is the ticket barriers outside the check in desks at Kowloon station.
The check in counters are just like those the airport:
The stations look a lot like an airport as well: Hong Kong station.
When I travelled the train was almost empty: this photo shows the most crowded carriage I could find.
The carriage I was in had only one other passenger on board.
The trains are specially fitted out for the airport route, with luggage areas by the entry doors to hold big suitcases, and the seats have plenty of room underneath to place your hand luggage.
The network map looks pretty spiffy as well.
On thing I did notice was the amount of dwell time at stations. Hong Kong and Kowloon stations have extended stops due to the need to load the checked luggage into the baggage car: the car at the Hong Kong end of the EMU is fitted out as a luggage van, with five doors used to load the containerised baggage from the checking counters. It appears no luggage is carried on the airport -> Hong Kong leg of the journey.
At Tsing Yi the In Town Check In is not available, but the station stop still took ages – possibly we were waiting on a Tung Chung line metro train to pass us.
The final destination for most passengers is Airport station: for the departures terminal doors open on both sides: one side for Terminal 1 and the other for Terminal 2.
Luggage carts are lined up on both platforms, with ramps leading down into the terminals.
Finally – the cost.
Like most transport to airports, the fares are sky high (boom boom tish!). From Hong Kong station to the airport is $100 HKD, from Kowloon it is $90 HKD. For comparison the most expensive MTR single journey fare appears to be from Sheung Shui Station (on East Rail) to Tung Chung for $24 HKD, a distance about twice as long as that to the airport. Also for comparison, a Hong Kong to Tung Chung single journey fare is just $21 HKD, almost the same route as the Airport Express, but requiring a short but very cheap bus ride to actually reach the airport. There are a few more expensive fares on the MTR network, but they involve the border crossing stations of Lok Ma Chau and Lo Wu, at $50 HKD or so they fit into the same price gouging category.
None the less, with $7.8 HKD worth $1 USD, the airport fare worked out to be only about $14 AUD, or pretty good value compared to my usual train fare in Melbourne. That is even more impressive when you remember that the MTR receives no government subsidies towards their daily operations.