Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport is expanding its people-mover known as the Plane Train.
Photo: AJC
Photo: AJC

Hartsfield-Jackson to spend $58 million on more Plane Train cars

Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport plans to spend $58 million to buy more Plane Train cars to add to the people-mover system’s capacity.

Buying the cars is part of a much more complex project to expand Plane Train capacity, which will require extending the track to allow room for trains that arrive at the domestic terminal to turn back in the other direction more quickly.

Airport officials say the project to extend the Plane Train system will cost $260 million, down from an earlier estimate of more than $300 million.

In preparation for buying 14 more cars to add to the Plane Train, the Atlanta City Council approved a $9 million sole-source airport contract with Bombardier Transportation USA Holding Inc. for engineering work to design the vehicles and customize them to the Atlanta Plane Train requirements. The vehicles would be delivered by August 2021.

The system currently allows as many as 11 four-car trains to run simultaneously between the domestic terminal, concourses and international terminal and back at the world’s busiest airport during peak hours, according to airport documents. The airport’s current 59-car fleet also has extra cars to keep in reserve and handle service when maintenance on vehicles is needed, and officials plan to replace some obsolete cars.

The extended track will allow for as many as 15 trains to run simultaneously, and the sole-source purchase of vehicles from Bombardier will allow for three more four-car trains and two spare cars. 

The people-mover train debuted at the Atlanta airport with the opening of the terminal in 1980. The train system has undergone a series of extensions and expansions as the airport has grown and added more concourses through the decades and an international terminal in 2012.

A second people-mover system at the airport began operations in 2009. That above-ground SkyTrain takes passengers to the rental car center that opened at the same time, as well as to the Georgia International Convention Center.

In 2010, the underground people-mover train to the concourses was renamed the Plane Train to distinguish it from the SkyTrain. Marietta resident Don Auensen won an airport contest by suggesting the Plane Train name.

About the Author

Kelly Yamanouchi
Kelly Yamanouchi
Business reporter Kelly Yamanouchi covers airlines and the airport.
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