Beijing Airport Express Train in Depth

In this article, I am going to talk about the Beijng Airport Express in depth, just as I talked about the Pudong Airport Maglev Train.


Beijing Airport Express is just opened one month before the Olympic. It has four stations along the line:

  • Airport T3 Station
  • Airport T2 Station (T1 is almost at the same building of T2)
  • Sanyuanqiao Station
  • Dongzhimen Station

The routes are like this:

Dongzhimen -> Sanyuanqiao -> T3 -> T2 -> Sanyuanqiao -> Dongzhimen

Please note that there is only T3 to T2 train and there is no reserve direction trains. The T3, T2 and Sanyuanqiao is just like a big circle – the train only goes counter-clockwise.

The Price

25 RMB (or 3 USD) for single trip, no matter which train station you get off. If you want to get to T2 from T3, they provide free shuttle bus. Please do not take the train if you want to save some money.

Travel Time

I took the train from Dongzhimen to T3, and it took about 20 minutes. From T3 to Dongzhimen may take about 30 minutes (considering the 3 minutes stay at T3 and go back via T2 and the stay there).

The Stations

The T3 Station is in the huge turtle shell, as I described before. It is at the south of the giant T3 station.

I have more photos of the station in this entry: Beijing Airport Express Train.

T2 is underground at B2 level of T2. Use the elevator to get to B1 (food courts), L1 (Arrival) and L2 (Departure)…

Sanyuanqiao station is exactly at the Third Ring Road and the intersection of Airport Express way. It is at the northeast corner of the city. If you know a little bit of Beijing road system, the Third Ring Road of Beijing is the major back-bone roads in Beijing. The Airport Express Road Station is connected with the Beijing Subway Line #10 Sanyuanqiao Station via a short tunnel – about 30 meters long. It is very convinient to transit.

The last station is the Dongzhimen Station. It is also built together with the Beijing Subway Line #2 Dongzhimen Station.

The Sanyuanqiao and Dongzhimen stations enable passengers to transit easily to other subway systems in Beijing. In this sense, it is designed much better than Shanghai’s Maglev.

The Ticket

Here are the photos of the ticket – front side and the back side.

On the back side of the ticket, it prints the route of the train.

It will be withdrew when the train arrives. It does have the paper based receipt that you can reimburse if you are on a business trip.

On the Train

This is what it looks like inside the train.

On the train, there are screen broadcasting some sports program. Unlike the commercial in Shanghai Metro, it seems non-profit.

The Tracks

This is the track looking from the front of the train.

This train has open space for the operator that you can stand behind them and watch the front (or the end) of the train.

This is the track transit junction just out of the T3 stations.

A switch will made the train turning to the right lane, which leads to T2. The left track is where the train come from – the Sanyuanqiao Station. If you look at the photo clear enough, on the top of the light pole, there are Olympic 5 circles.

On the left the track, you can see the big entrance of the Airport Express Way II.

You will see this giant place – for collecting tolls for cars entering the airport.

On the left on the way from T3 to T2, you can also see the many tracks for parking the trains.

It is visible event from the airplane.

Immediately after passing the parking area, the train will run into the underground section of the route.

As you can see from the photo above, at the very beginning, the tunnel is in shape of square, which means it is built by digging the ground and put a cover on it. Very soon, the tunnel will turn into round tube:

The journey lasts for several minutes, and ends at the T2.

Getting back to the city, and getting through the same tube tunnel, the train gets back to the ground and reach the elevated track:

When the train travels on the ground, you can clearly see the Airport Express. The train track is surrounded by high trees. Sometimes, you feel that you are traveling in a forest. The slogan “Green Olympic” starts to echo on my ears.

Along the track, you can see the Ikea store. It is the intersection of the Express Train, and the 4th Ring Road. The place is called Suyuanqiao:

The Sanyuanqiao

Here is the map on the wall of Train Station of Subway Line #10. The Airport Express Sanyuanqiao Station is connected directly with the Subway Line #10 station.

You can leave the train station very soon. As you can see from the map, the two stations are only 50 meters away from each other.

Want to know how far the two stations are? Look at the photo below:

Dongzhimen Station

The Dongzhimen station is also very closely connected with the Beijing Subway #2.

The two stations are connected by a short tunnel.

I have to say, the city planning and architects of the subways did wonderful job. They designed very good transition stations that people can get to almost everywhere in the city via the Beijing Airport Express.

11 thoughts on “Beijing Airport Express Train in Depth

  1. It may be intereting to know that the 28-km rail link between Beijing Capital International Airport and the Dongzhimen subway features driverless operation using the Advanced Rapid Transit technology from Canada’s Bombardier.

    ART is already in use on the Vancouver Sky Train, the longest driverless system in the world, and on the AirTrain linking New York City with JFK Airport. Other ART systems operate in Toronto, Detroit and Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. Bombardier was contracted to provide 40 trains, but some observers think only about 28 will be ready by the start of the Olympics on Aug. 8. Bombardier trains can run at 100 km/hour (62.5 mph), making the entire journey from the airport to downtown Beijing just 16 minutes long. Alstom, a French company, is providing signaling systems.

    The ART trains can carry 4,500 passengers an hour during peak periods. Bombardier uses a linear induction motor that makes the trains light and quiet. Onboard computers receive signals from trackside transponders, and a control room oversees all train movements. In the Beijing project, the trains link into the city’s subway system downtown and feed into the Automated People Mover at the Olympic venues.

  2. About time PEK got an express train into town! Both the train and the station look very nice and efficient. When I first read this, I was reminded of the Northeast Line (NEL) of the Singapore MRT which is also fully automated and quick. Am looking forward to flying into PEK and taking the train into town…

  3. Very interesting article! Would you like to write series of articles about Chinese airport rail links for our publication?

  4. Hello. I have just travelled in that express subway. The journey was execellent.

    Can any one tell me who was the constructor of this metro.

  5. It would be good to note that if you have a Beijing metro card, you can use it for the airport train as well as the busses. As a bonus, you get 60% off busses when you use your subway / metro card.

    If you only speak English, go to any subway office (unfortunately, you cannot get one from the airport) and ask for an “IC”. You may also want to draw the characters in the air. As I found out, this will get you much further than “prepaid subway card thingy.” Who knew?!

  6. I wanted to know that how frequently can i get airport express metro from dongzhimen to go to airport terminal 2?

  7. When I get to the Beijing Internainal Railway station how do I get to Beijing South Railway station to catch a train to Taijian? and what times do theey leave thanks

  8. I need to go to Beijing Zhan from T3

    Am I better off taking the Airport Express and then transferring to the metro or taking the the airport bus line #3? Any idea how long it takes?

    By the way, great blog and very impressive photos of you and other Internet personalities!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *