The AirTrain Newark Replacement Program will replace the existing 2.5-mile (4km) AirTrain system at Newark Liberty International Airport. Credit: ©Doppelmayr.
The replacement programme will include the construction of a new elevated guideway, passenger stations, vehicles, and a maintenance and control facility. Credit: ©Doppelmayr.
The project is estimated to cost $2.05bn. Credit: ©Doppelmayr.
The AirTrain Newark Replacement Program is expected to be commissioned in 2029. Credit: ©Doppelmayr.

The AirTrain Newark Replacement Program is a significant infrastructure initiative aimed at overhauling the existing 2.5-mile (4km) AirTrain system at Newark Liberty International Airport. It is being implemented by the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey.

The Port Authority envisions the AirTrain Program to be delivered using a design-build-operate-maintain model.

The project was announced in November 2019. The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) issued the final environmental assessment (EA) for the project in August 2021.

Construction activities are expected to commence in the fourth quarter (Q4) of 2024, while the new services are expected to be available from Q2 2029.

With an estimated investment of $2.05bn, the project is designed to cater to the growing number of air passengers, which is expected to reach 59 million a year by 2030 and 72 million a year by 2040.

The current AirTrain system has been in operation since 1996 and is approaching the end of its service life. The operational life of the new project is expected to extend beyond 2040.

The project is anticipated to handle significant passenger growth, with daily ridership projected to exceed 41,000 by 2030 and 50,000 by 2040, marking an above-50% increase.

Project background

The AirTrain Newark serves millions of passengers each year, connecting three passenger terminals at Newark Liberty, parking, and rental car facilities. It also connects to the Northeast Corridor Rail Link Station, which further connects to NJ TRANSIT and Amtrak rail service.

The existing system involves 15 six-car trains consisting of Von Roll Mk III Monorail-type vehicles.

With an average daily ridership of 33,000, the current system has reached the end of its useful life and is set to be replaced to meet increasing passenger demands while maintaining world-class operations.

The project aims to accommodate the passenger load, which is expected to exceed the existing capacity by 2025.

It also seeks to enhance the passenger experience by maximising the use of interactive wayfinding, kiosk technologies and internet connectivity.

Services will be maintained during the transition from the existing AirTrain to the new system, while also minimising disruptions during the implementation phase.

AirTrain Newark Replacement Program details

The AirTrain Newark Replacement Program will replace the existing outmoded AirTrain system with a new, state-of-the-art automated people-mover train system.

It includes the construction of elevated guideway infrastructure, passenger stations, vehicles and a maintenance and control facility. Modifications will also be made to existing passenger terminals and parking garages to support the AirTrain pedestrian connectors.

The new AirTrain will connect to Terminal A, the future Terminal 2 (currently Terminal B), the Consolidated-Rent-a-Car Centre and the Northeast Corridor Rail Link Station, linking customers to regional rail and light rail networks.

The system will operate multiple vehicles with headways of two to three minutes and will be able to move between 2,000 and 3,500 passengers per hour in each direction.

The AirTrain stations will feature platform elevations ranging from 10ft to 75ft above ground level, with vertical circulation elements such as elevators, escalators and stairs. The programme also includes the construction of power substations, modifications to existing terminals and interim elevated pedestrian walkways.

Modifications will be made to the existing passenger terminals C and B, as well as parking garage P4 to accommodate any required AirTrain pedestrian connections or additional connections. It will include vertical circulation cores to the arrival, concourses and departure levels of the terminals.

The project will include the construction of temporary elevated pedestrian crossings linking B and C terminals, as well as connecting the AirTrain stations to terminals B and C and the P4 parking garage.

Contractors involved

In December 2023, Doppelmayr was awarded a contract of approximately $570m for the design, engineering and construction of the new Cable Liner® and the operation and maintenance of the system over 20 years.

Alstom, a rolling stock manufacturer based in France, was awarded a contract valued at €250m ($266m) in March 2023 to provide operations and maintenance services for the existing AirTrain system. The contract period will run for seven years, until January 2030.