Focus on Optimizing Transportation at the Airport
The Sky Line People Mover

Fast Connections for Everyone

For planning how people can get around at Frankfurt Airport, attention has focused on optimizing reachability, wayfinding, and convenience. To make sure that it will also be easy for passengers to get to and from Terminal 3, the existing Sky Line people mover system is being extended. Two new stations will ensure that all three terminals are smoothly interlinked. The new Sky Line route will enable transit passengers to conveniently get between terminals and those who ride regional or long-distance trains of Deutsche Bahn to get to and/or from the airport.

More than just an extension: Wolfgang Holzhausen, in charge of the Sky Line expansion project, explains the new system

One obvious possibility was simply to extend the existing Sky Line route all the way to Terminal 3 in the south of the airport. But although this sounds logical, it has some major drawbacks. The biggest one is that travelers coming from the regional or long-distance train station would have to walk much further to station B in the middle of Terminal 1. The paths to it and the station itself aren’t designed to handle large passenger volumes, especially if they’re carrying luggage. Extensive modifications would be required.

To have enough capacity, we would also have to add a third car to each train. Unfortunately, the existing Sky Line system doesn’t easily support this. Major modifications to the stations, the route, and the system would also be required. The existing system is regularly maintained and overhauled, but the possibilities for upgrading it are limited. Last but not least, the existing Sky Line has a top speed of only 50 km/h. Even if it were modified to increase the velocity to 60 km/h, it would fall considerably short of what we’ll achieve with the new Sky Line, which will run at 80 km/h. So we had to reject the plan of simply extending the existing system.

We can avoid these disadvantages by creating a “landside branch”. This involves inserting a new station in front of Terminal 1 for passengers heading for Terminal 2. Shuttle buses now provide this service, but they won’t be needed any longer going forward. We could have also extended the existing line all the way to Terminal 3 parallel to the new one, but then both – the landside branch and the existing one coming from Terminal 1 – would have to share the same route all the way to Terminal 3. Only half as many trains as now would be able to run, since otherwise the stops would be too short for passengers to get on and off. Three-car trains would therefore be required to provide enough capacity, which would be difficult as I already mentioned.

A third possibility was also considered at the start: it would have been possible to directly link Terminals 1 and 3 via a subterranean tunnel. But then we wouldn’t have had any way to sensibly integrate Terminal 2. Passengers transferring between the existing and new systems would have had to use an elevator to reach a new station far underground, and any solution for that would have quickly run up against its limits. Long waits would have inevitably been the result. It would also have been extremely challenging to dig a tunnel under two runways without interrupting ongoing flight operations. We therefore also rejected this variant.

Well, first of all it provides faster connections, both for passengers in transit and for those coming from or heading to the regional or long-distance train station. We achieve this with short trip times and state-of-the-art technology in combination with the already-discussed parallel lines between Terminals 1 and 2. By building two new stations and modifying the existing one at Terminal 2, we can optimally meet the requirements. And we can accomplish it without interrupting operation.

To begin with, the new people mover is even faster than the existing one. That one runs at “only” 50 km/h, which could be increased but only up to a maximum of 60 km/h on the long stretch. Our new Sky Line attains a velocity of up to 80 km/h, which reduces the time it takes to travel between Terminals 2 and 3 by about a minute, which isn’t negligible. The frequency will remain high, with the option of having trains depart once every 100 seconds some of the time. Both lines will use two-car trains, with the option of adding a third car on the new Sky Line if capacity needs to be boosted. Both systems will operate fully automatically without drivers. This enables extremely stable operation. A separate dedicated route, derailment-proof track guidance, and station platform barriers combine to ensure safe transportation.

The new station at Terminal 1 lets travelers coming from the regional and long-distance train stations quickly and directly reach Terminals 2 and 3 by the shortest possible route. We expect that passengers heading to and coming from the train stations will account for about half of the total, and most of them will be carrying luggage. It’s therefore very important to ensure short, convenient walking paths.

Definitely! The existing Sky Line is the main link between Terminals 1 and 2 and especially important for all transit passengers that need to get between them. To make this clear, suppose that you land at Terminal 1 and have a connecting flight with another airline. Whether it leaves from Terminal 2 or 3, the existing Sky Line is your best choice for getting to Terminal 2 quickly and conveniently. You can board it at any of the three stations at Concourses A, B, and C. When you get to Terminal 2, you get off and either proceed straight to your flight or transfer to the new Sky Line to continue on to Terminal 3. This naturally also works in reverse order from Terminal 2 or 3 to Terminal 1.

From Frankfurt to Anywhere

Those arriving at Frankfurt Airport in a regional or long-distance train of Deutsche Bahn only have a short stroll to the new Sky Line. The station is located in the drive-by area between Terminal 1 and the Sheraton Hotel, just a few minutes’ walk from the train stations. A Sky Line train leaves from there toward Terminal 3 every two minutes, which can be reduced to just 100 seconds if the airport is very busy. There is a brief stop at Terminal 2 for passengers to get on and off. The train takes just under eight minutes to cover the 5.6 kilometers to Terminal 3, reaching a top speed of 80 km/h.

Arrival at Terminal 3: Various Options for the Onward Journey

Air passengers arriving in Frankfurt as their final destination can continue their trip by car, taxi, bus or train, all of which are conveniently accessible from Terminal 3.

From Terminal 3 to Your Continuing Flight – How to Get There

For travelers who are catching an onward flight at Terminal 1 or 2, the Sky Line people mover is a comfortable and convenient way to make the connection. Trains travel 24/7 every 100 to 120 seconds, also making it possible to catch connecting flights with a short layover time.

Connecting Flight at Terminal 3? No Problem!

The Sky Line people mover is the fastest option for passengers who land at Terminal 1 or 2 and need to catch a connecting flight at Terminal 3, regardless of whether they are coming from or heading to Schengen or non-Schengen countries. Passengers coming from Terminal 1 only need to change at Terminal 2.