5 reasons why trains to / from Otopeni Airport do not have passengers
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In December 2020, the first trains started running on the route North Railway Station Bucharest - Henri Coandă Airport, Otopeni - Bucharest. I looked forward to this direct rail connection to the airport, in the context of which road traffic is becoming increasingly crowded.
The doubling works of the CF line executed between Mogoșoaia - Balotești and of the construction of the new line for the CF Connection (from the Odăile area) at the T1 Terminal, Henri Coandă Bucharest International Airport were completed and received. The traditional ribbon was cut, the classic image bath of politicians was made and, in theory, everyone is happy because we have trains that connect Bucharest to Romania's main airport.
It took some time until the first experience on this railway route. I expected to see the trains full in the context in which the number of flights started to increase in 2021, and the airlines were preparing the new routes for this summer's season. But you see, trains run more empty. Currently, thanks to the EURO 2020 matches, the daily average of passengers carried on this route exceeded 1000 people. Given that there are several dozen trains a day from CFR and private companies, the number of passengers transported is still very small.
Following the experience I had, I identified, I say, 5 reasons why trains from / to Otopeni Airport have no passengers. No, price is not the issue, in the context in which a trip costs a few lei.
Uncertainty of rail travel at certain times of the day or night
- At the moment, the main problem lies in the uncertainty of rail travel at certain times of the day or night. Due to the railway infrastructure, no more than two to three trips per hour can be operated. Yes, at certain times of the day, the frequency of trains is much lower, maybe even at an hourly rotation. I'm staying on Titan. To get to the station, I take the subway between 40 and 50 minutes, depending on how I catch the connections. I arrive at the station and I am surprised that the next train to Otopeni Airport is scheduled in 40 minutes. Finally, the train leaves with a 15-minute delay. To which I add 20 minutes between the North Railway Station and Otopeni Airport. In total, the journey from home to the airport came to around 2 hours. In addition to the fact that it takes quite a long time, you may also be surprised not to leave on time or to hit a time of day when the frequency of trains is low. Obviously, the low cost can cause many to choose the train at the expense of road travel (bus, taxi), but there are other factors that take them away from the train.
Lack of concrete, clear and visible information in Gara de Nord
- The lack of concrete, clear and visible information in the North Station could be a problem. On the route Gara de Nord - Otopeni Airport there are three operators, one state and two private. When you arrive at the station, the table shows you the platform from which the next train leaves for the airport. The problem is that it is always different and certainly many do not even know if the train is from CFR or another railway carrier. There is no common ticket office of the three carriers to be dedicated to this route. I think that such a thing would solve the problem of many who do not know where to buy tickets and if the next train is from CFR or another carrier. There is no visible schedule of all trains between Gara de Nord and Otopeni Airport, there is no information. Each carrier has its own ticket office and its own schedule that it respects or not… At the same time, if we keep talking about information, the new railway connections between Gara de Nord and Otopeni Airport are not promoted.
Lack of a common ticketing system
- The lack of a common ticketing system can be a problem. It would have been useful a common ticket system through which passengers in the country could buy a ticket from the basic destination to the airport via Gara de Nord, regardless of the railway carrier with which they travel from the country to Bucharest or from Gara de Nord to Otopeni Airport. But no, this is not possible. The passenger has to go through several search and reservation engines, he has to look for the train schedule and calculate his margin compared to the flight time, etc.… Complicated!
Lack of synchronization between trains, other means of public transport and aircraft
- Lack of timing between trains, other means of public transport and aircraft can drive passengers away. There are many passengers who come from different parts of the country, arrive at the North Station and choose buses or taxis to get to Otopeni Airport faster. Okay, if the trains don't get tens or even hundreds of minutes late or if they haven't derailed
There is no connection with the metropolitan area of Bucharest
- The train is good, it arrives quickly from the North Station to Otopeni Airport, but there are no stations in the metropolitan area of Bucharest. Maybe that would have been an attractive means of transport, including for airport employees. Thus, all those who want to travel by train to Otopeni Airport must pass through the North Station, or sometimes not the happiest solution. Thus, other means of public transport can gain ground in front of the train.
BONUS! Constantly, all this work with the railway section between Gara de Nord and Otopeni Airport is mainly addressed to Bucharest residents, not to tourists or foreigners. As I said above, the lack of communication, the lack of information and the lack of marketing actions could bury this service.
Yes, the train is necessary, it is good, it is fast compared to other means of transport, but only from Gara de Nord to Otopeni Airport and back. But it is not enough just to have this service to be passengers. There are many more things to adjust, do, develop… But who should do them?