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Atlanta Airport Train Replacement?

Mon Sep 22, 2003 12:25 pm

I though I remember reading a while back that there was a plan to replace the airport train/people mover at ATL with a new people mover system due to the current one's age. Does anyone know if this has or will take place? I am sure the current 20+ year old system has a lot of mileage.

The last time I traveled through ATL, I got on the train to go from Concourse A to D and the train stopped at C for some reason for an unusually long time. A recording kept going off on the outside warning passengers that the train was departing and not to prop the doors open, but the train never went anywhere for several minutes. Hopefully the new system will work out some of the bugs with the current one.
Bill in ATL
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RE: Atlanta Airport Train Replacement?

Mon Sep 22, 2003 12:39 pm

This current tendancy to replace comparatively new airport people movers after just 20 years of operation is absurd. Was the New York Subway completely replaced by a new system in the 1930s? No. Was the San Fransisco Bay Area Rapid Transit (BART) system rebuilt from the ground up in the 1990s? No. So it seems to me to make absolutely no sense to treat airport people movers as though they were private automobiles and replace them after a few years in service, with a newer and sleeker looking model.
The argument that they handle an excessive amount of traffic is easily quashed by the fact that though this is the case, they were designed to handle said traffic, and never do they face loads more severe than what you find on most subway systems.

What should be done is the existing systems should be refurbished and modernized. The rolling stock probably does not need replacement for reasons other than aesthetics, but could be freshened up, with perhaps upgraded doors, windows, paint schemes etc.

However, ultimately, the cause for all of these system replacements are probably the corrupt officials of transit system manufacturers. Having done a lot of research into the mass transit industry, I can say there is an incredible amount of idiocy, in particular, there is one rather large Canadian firm that also manufactures Regional Jets that has a tendancy to produce a poor quality product (but they are the largest railway manufacturer in the world, having bought out so many other companies, that they are virtually guaranteed to get a huge number of the orders).

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RE: Atlanta Airport Train Replacement?

Mon Sep 22, 2003 12:43 pm

Well, there are some 20 year old trains that need replacement - like DFW. That was a BAD idea when it was built and will be replaced with a very nice bi-directional train system.
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RE: Atlanta Airport Train Replacement?

Mon Sep 22, 2003 1:47 pm

The system at ATL has a tendancy to create delays in the network. I was trying to get from D to baggage claim and we must have been sitting (standing) at D for about 5-10 minutes before the train even departed. Sometimes the train doors don't even align properly with the station doors. It's a good system except for a few minor problems here and there. Anything beats the trAAin at DFW - instead of delaying for 5 minutes, the doors open and 10 seconds later they want to close. Not to mention the blistering heat and small capacity of it.
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RE: Atlanta Airport Train Replacement?

Mon Sep 22, 2003 1:57 pm

I've personally never seen problems with ATL's trains; it seems to work great. If it ain't broke, dont fix it!
Last year 1,944 New Yorkers saw something and said something.
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RE: Atlanta Airport Train Replacement?

Mon Sep 22, 2003 2:38 pm

Those cars are new cars... Replaced in 2001... Bombardier Transportation built the new ones for the city.. What you have to realize is that when tranist vehiciles are replaced, they are going to be almost identical to the old ones for compatabilty etc... the comptuer system is upgraded alot in them.. the old westinghouse system was apparently a mess.there was a good article on them somewhere i cant find it but it showed one of the old cars laying outside of georgia tech... Apparently westinghouse became adtranz
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RE: Atlanta Airport Train Replacement?

Mon Sep 22, 2003 4:53 pm

To make a similar comparison, building elevators (different direction of course, but still an automated machine that gets people around a building) are not completely demolished and rebuilt. Rather, they are refurbished and upgraded over time. The cars rarely need to be replaced, but moving parts, cables, interiors and automated systems get replaced and upgraded periodically. There was a neat article in the Wall Street Journal a while back about how Otis Elevator, a subsidiary of United Technologies (the same United Technologies that owns Pratt & Whitney), is pulling things along for the parent company as elevators are constantly upgraded, refurbed or at least need regular inspections and minor wear & tear maintenance.
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Topic Author
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RE: Atlanta Airport Train Replacement?

Tue Sep 23, 2003 8:09 am

Come to think of it, the Atlanta airport train must have had some modifications prior to the car replacements, since Concourse E is new and the furthest Concourse from the main terminal.
Bill in ATL
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RE: Atlanta Airport Train Replacement?

Tue Sep 23, 2003 8:43 am

WGW2707- The whole thing isn't being replaced, just 19 of the oldest cars. 20 years is the expected lifetime of them and it's very reasonable. Another thing, train control equipment is meant to be replaced or upgraded over time. Newer control equipment allows for more effencent and accurate operation. You seem to be thinking of the infrastructure, like the tunnels and roadbed. These for all transit systems are meant to last forever with proper maintaining and repairs.

By the way, NYC subway uses 100 year old train control equipment, which is pathetic. It's sad that the system does not even know the locations of trains until it passes a signal. For a system as busy and complex as NYC's, they should be running the most advanced computer systems out there. Instead, they use ancient callboxs to let a guy in a room pull a lever in order for the train to go on a certain route. This should all be done automatically and nearly every other metro in the world already does that.
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RE: Atlanta Airport Train Replacement?

Tue Sep 23, 2003 9:25 am


I agree with the NYC subway, but it's 100 years old, and the MTA has better things to spend (i.e. 2nd avenue subway) than to replace the old system. It works fine as it is, but it will one day have to be upgraded.
They are in fact starting to do that though. With the new trains, (R142's and 143's), they are going to install CBTC on certain lines in the system (starting with the L then the 7, because of their simple routes). This will allow for better spacing etc...
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RE: Atlanta Airport Train Replacement?

Tue Sep 23, 2003 11:03 am

If a minority company comes up with an idea for a replacement, you can rest assured that Atlanta will give the replacement a long hard look. The Airport is run like a big jobs program. If you live in Atlanta, you know just what I am talking about.
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RE: Atlanta Airport Train Replacement?

Tue Sep 23, 2003 12:52 pm

I've been through ATL countless times in the past year and haven't seen a problem with the trains, ever. They are very easy to use and if all else fails there is the stationary (if you will) people mover adjacent to the tram. On a sidenote, people complain that ATL is so big and confusing when in fact I find it to be one of the easiest and carefree airports to transit through. Not my favorite necessarily, but quite easy.
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RE: Atlanta Airport Train Replacement?

Wed Sep 24, 2003 9:46 am

Frequentflykid, I agree with you about ATL - for a large airport it is not that hard to navigate. I am not really complaining about the train, it was just kind of odd the one time that it was delayed. I was thinking the replacement was going to be a new design of some sort instead of the overhaul that took place.

One side note about the Atlanta airport train, I always got a kick out of how they would develop new ways to keep people from proping the doors and delaying the train. I was there one time in 1993 when there was a loud recording that went off outside of the with a siren shouting at people to stop and not enter the train. The inside of the train had a robotic recording that was somewhat hard to understand. When I was there again in '99, the train leaving warning was replaced with a calmer sounding voice and signs warning people not to prop the doors open because they can't be reopened - leading them to believe that they will have there hands cut off if they try to prop them open. The interior robotic voice was replaced with a much clearer sounding voice that repeats each stop twice...."The next stop is Concourse B, Concourse B." I am assuming all of the fuss about people proping the doors open is due to the fact that it would delay the entire train network if one train was held up.
Bill in ATL
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RE: Atlanta Airport Train Replacement?

Wed Sep 24, 2003 11:25 am

Please hold on, this train is abruptly stopping!! lol I like watching the people getting thrown to the otherside of the train when they are not holding on. It can be rough at times. I fly through ATL all the time and believe the train system is quite reliable.
"Life is short, but your delay in ATL is not."
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RE: Atlanta Airport Train Replacement?

Wed Sep 24, 2003 11:43 am

Back before the '96 Olympics, the system was quite unreliable. I can remember numerous times being stuck between stations for good periods of time on multiple occaisions. Since then its been much more reliable. Although the system lags when someone is blocking a door, the train at least stays at the station and doesnt stop in the middle of the tunnel. There is nothing better, well except for some chimes at European airports, than the chimes in the ATL train.
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