Saturday, October 5, 2013

Sayonara, Shuttle System in Narita Airport Terminal 2

A vehicle of the shuttle system in Narita Airport Terminal 2 runs backed by an aircraft. (March, 2012)
According to a media report, the shuttle system in Terminal 2 of the New Tokyo International Airport (Narita Airport) was abandoned on September 26th, 2013. The shuttle system was opened in 1992 to transport flight passengers between the newly constructed Satellite Building and pre-existing Main Building of Terminal 2. It had transported a total of 200 million passengers for 21 years.

The shuttle system was an automated people mover, being operated on a 279m long track. It took one minute between the main and the satellite buildings. The system was manufactured by Nippon Otis Elevator Company, which specializes in elevators and escalators. The shuttle system was not a railway, but a horizontal elevator. A vehicle was attached to a cable that moves it, like a funicular. The four vehicles did not have wheels; instead, they floated on a 0.2mm layer of compressed air.

I used this shuttle system frequently. It was a good system since the vehicle was spacious and was operated frequently. Thanks to the shuttle system, I could rush onto the aircraft, even if I arrived at the airport at the last-minute before the gate closed.

What happened after the abandonment of the shuttle system? According to the above media, a moving walkway between the main and the satellite buildings was opened on September 27th to replace the shuttle.

Arigatou (thank you) and sayonara (goodbye) to the shuttle in Narita Airport Terminal 2.

A vehicle and tracks of the shuttle system in Narita Airport Terminal 2 (March, 2012)