Denver Airport Trains (DEN)

Denver International Airport is a large establishment just outside of the city of Denver, Colorado, in the United States of America. The airport handled around 5 million passengers every year, and is regarded as the eleventh busiest airport in the world for passenger traffic. It is also the fifth busiest in the world for aircraft movements. Many refer to the airport as DIA, or by its IATA code of DEN. There is currently no Denver International train station for links to the city’s light rail system, but plenty of bus services are available. In future, a commuter rail line from downtown Denver’s Union Station may be extended to a the airport.

Although the airport has no direct train connections to the city of Denver, there are airport trains for the transport of passengers within the airport complex. The airport covers an extremely large space of land, 53 square miles, and is regarded as the largest in the U.S. in terms of land size. The passenger facilities of the airport are all built mid-field. There is a large passenger terminal which is the ‘central base’ for airport operations, with check-in counters, baggage reclaim areas and security screening gates, amidst shops, restaurants, restrooms, information booths and all other facilities that can be expected at a large airport. The departure gates, however, are located at quite a distance from the main terminal (Jeppesen Terminal), and in three concourses, referred to as A, B and C. The airport train is therefore used by passengers who need to get to the furthest of the concourses.

Concourse A is connected to the Jeppesen Terminal by the Denver International Airport Automated Guideway Transit System, or the AGTS, which is the people mover train of the airport, as well as by an impressive passenger bridge that offers some spectacular views over aircraft activity. The bridge is so tall and long that two aircraft can simultaneously pass below. Concourses B and C can only be reached by the airport train, as they are located much further from the Jeppesen Terminal. Since that these two concourses can only be reached by airport train, the AGTS is an essential component for airport operations. The train has only failed once since the airport was opened, in the late 1990’s, which caused a major back-log of passengers in the Jeppesen Terminal. However, no major service interruptions have been experiences in later years.

The AGTS of Denver Airport is fully automated, running bi-directional trains that operate in two dedicated, underground tunnels. The trains run on rubber tires for a smooth and quiet ride, and are able to carry around 8,300 passengers per hour in both directions. A complete round-trip is about 2.4 miles, which take the trains about eleven minutes. The average journey to any of the concourses from the main terminal is not longer than five minutes. The airport train stations and the Automated Guideway Transit System of Denver Airport are built with the highest of safety levels in mind. The stations can easily be seen by passengers on the train, and large platform windows allow passengers to see incoming trains. The doors of the stations and train cars are fire-resistant and automatic, opening when the train has stopped at the station, and they also have sensors to prevent them from closing when the door opening is not clear. The tunnels in which the trains run have an emergency walkway, with emergency exits every 400 feet. They also have an elaborate smoke alarm and exhaust system, and an uninterruptible power supply. The Denver Airport trains are completely accessible to disabled passengers, and the vehicles automatically lower themselves to match the floor height of the station platform, for easier entry and exit, regardless of the passenger load. The airport trains are free of charge as well.

The city of Denver, that can be reached by a variety of RTD bus services from Denver International Airport, has a light rail system that is also run by RTD, or the Regional Transportation District. There are five light rail lines with thirty-six stations, that cover a distance of approximately 40 miles, or 63km. The buses of the city are either Local, Express or Regional services, and the light rail system is divided into four zones, referred to as A, B, C and D. The light rail lines currently in use are the C Line, from Littleton/Mineral to Union Station, the D Line, from Littleton/Mineral to 30th/Downing, the E Line, from Lincoln to Union Station, the F Line, from Lincoln to 18th/California and 18th/Stout and the H Line, from Nine Mile to 18th/California and 18th/Stout. Several new routes are planned for the future as well, including a possible line to the airport through Aurora, and the W Line, which will link Union Station to the Jeffco Government Centre. One-way fares for light rail transport will cost $2.25, $4.00 or $5.00, depending on the number of fare zones your journey will cross, and can be purchased as single tickets or in booklets of ten tickets. Various daily and monthly passes are available as well.

Union Station is Denver’s main railway station, and is located at 17th and Wynkoop in the LoDo district. In earlier years, the station was served by eighty daily trains that travelled to various locations, however, since the formation of Amtrak, only one train per day has travelled between Chicago and the Bay Area, through Denver. The Denver Amtrak Union Station is currently under redevelopment, as it will soon be the hub for the FasTracks rail network planned by RTD, and its services has been temporarily relocated to a station at 21st and Wewatta Streets, behind Coors Field. The temporary station will be used until Spring, 2014.

Although there is currently no train station on site for connections to the city, the airport has extensive bus services, which are found convenient by the majority of passengers. Perhaps in the future the airport will have its own RTD light rail train station.