Whether you’re arriving at or departing from Pittsburgh International Airport, the train is part of your trip.
“Everybody comes through rides the train every day, but not too many people get to go behind the scenes of the train, see the train from underneath,” said Russell Hottenfeller, PIT’s Director of Facilities Maintenance.
The trains move travelers between the landside and airside terminals, a journey of half a mile. Six cars, three on each concrete track, run on 600 volts of power.
“A lot of people don’t realize there’s tires on it; it is not on a train track, it actually has rubber tires,” said Hottenfeller.
Every 90 seconds, the trains arrive in either the landside and airside terminals to pick up or drop off travelers. They stay in the station for 45 seconds before moving on at an average speed of 15 miles per hour, peaking at 32 mph on one stretch.
That equals about 31 trips per hour, or almost 8,000 miles a month, and nearly 100,000 miles a year, said Hottenfeller. Every night one of the trains is taken out of service for maintenance. Both trains get daily, weekly and monthly safety checks.
The trains have been around since the airport’s opening day in October 1992, but they won’t be around much longer. When PIT’s new, more efficient terminal opens in 2025, the terminals will be physically connected, and the train will go away.
“I think the flow is going to be a lot more seamless,” said Hottenfeller. “Going straight through TSA right into the airside core.”
Until then, the train will keep making trips, creating new memories for some.