|Owner||DFW Airport Board|
|Locale||Dallas/Fort Worth International Airport|
|Stations||10 (2 per terminal)|
|Rolling stock||64 Bombardier Innovia APM 200 vehicles|
|Ridership||5,000 passengers per direction per hour|
|Opened||May 21, 2005|
|Line length||4.81 mi (7.74 km)|
|Number of tracks||2|
|Operating speed||37 mph (60 km/h)|
Skylink is an automated people mover (APM) operating at Dallas/Fort Worth International Airport (DFW). It is an application of the Bombardier Innovia APM 200 system manufactured by Bombardier Transportation, and continues to be maintained and operated by Bombardier. When it opened in 2005, it was the world's largest airside airport train system (AirTrain JFK and the San Francisco Airtrain, which are both landside, opened in 2003 and are larger). Sixty-four Skylink trains are in service at DFW Airport.
Skylink was developed as a replacement for the Airtrans (part of which was later operated as American Airlines' TrAAin System), the airport's original people mover system that connected airport facilities and parking lots. It served the airport for 31 years from 1974–2005 and transported a quarter of a billion passengers between DFW's then four terminals and employee facilities, logging a total of 97 million miles (156,000,000 km) over the lifetime of its fleet. As DFW became a large connecting hub for flights, Airtrans was noted for being slow with its top speed of 17 mph (27 km/h) and following a uni-directional counter-clockwise loop located inside security for Terminals A, B, and C and outside security to other areas, was inefficient in moving passengers. The system was decommissioned soon after Skylink opened as a modern replacement and the old guideways were left in place throughout the airport.
Skylink guideway construction began in the fall of 1999 and took place with limited interruption of aircraft traffic. Contractors worked during overnight hours for 3 years – when airline gates were unused – arriving on site, completing work and removing equipment each morning before returning gates to an airline.
The system made its public debut at DFW International Airport on June 25, 2004, where it then began a rigorous testing period. It was opened to the public on May 21, 2005, and is completely automated. Skylink trains run every two minutes and travel at speeds up to 35–37 mph (56–60 km/h).
In 2015, after a decade of service Skylink transported over 141 million people, travelling over 32.4 million fleet miles.
The Skylink system is airside at DFW, serving passengers connecting between flights. There is no need to leave security and be re-screened when switching terminals. The system is only accessible airside and cannot be accessed by those not arriving at DFW or who have not cleared security. Arriving international passengers (who are not pre-cleared; e.g. Canada) who are connecting clear US CBP formalities and are then security screened before access to the terminals. Departing international passengers connecting from domestic or pre-cleared international flights do not need to be re-screened.
The longest trip between farthest stations is 9 minutes with an average 5 minute journey. This allows most passengers to make a connection from any one flight to another in around seven minutes, not including walking time to and from the stations. The full loop around the airport takes approximately 18 minutes.
Each Skylink train car can accommodate up to 69 passengers and their carry-on luggage.
During severe weather, SkyLink service can be suspended, requiring long walks in between gates and exiting security in order to access Terminal E.
The concrete and steel guideway for Skylink, elevated at an average of 50 feet, was constructed above the terminals on 375 columns in a 4.81-mile long (7.74 km) bi-directional loop. The inner track travels clockwise and the outer track travels counter-clockwise.
Each of the five terminals contains two stations which are accessed on the secure (air) side. Unlike the previous Airtrans APM system, Skylink only connects terminals and does not travel to the airport's parking lots or rental car facility. The stations contain four sets of doors on each platform for entrance and exiting of passengers. Two more stations can be constructed for a sixth terminal if it is built.
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- DFW International Airport (June 25, 2004). "DFW International Airport Debuts New SkyLink People Mover System" (Press release).
- Marta, Suzanne (May 8, 2005). "A lot riding on the train - The speedier Skylink may pull in more connecting fliers - and D/FW revenue". The Dallas Morning News. p. 1D.
- Marta, Suzanne (June 20, 2005). "Airtrans pulling into station for good - D/FW people-mover replaced by Skylink will make final trip Tuesday". The Dallas Morning News. p. 1A.
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