Video: Guide to riding RTD’s new commuter train to the airport

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DENVER -- The new commuter rail line to Denver International Airport opens on Friday, so the FOX31 Denver Problem Solvers put together a guide to show you what you need to know for a smooth ride on the train to the plane.

The first train leaves Union station and DIA at noon Friday. Trains will run every 15 minutes after that. Service is free for passengers on Friday and Saturday.

In fact, you can ride all of RTD's train lines for free on Saturday. On Sunday, the new train to the airport will operate on its normal schedule and begin charging customers $9 fares each way.

The eastbound train route starts at Union Station and makes six stops before arriving at the airport. Riders can join the train at any of the other stations on the route. It is the same price no matter where you get on. The route runs parallel to Interstate 70 for the most part before heading north near Peña Boulevard to DIA.

RTD says it will take 37 minutes from Union Station to arrive at the airport.

The official name of the new train service is the University of Colorado A Line. The train does not stop at any CU campuses but CU has the naming rights for the rail line.

“2016 is the biggest year in RTD’s history as far as opening up transit. We have opened five lines in the last 20 years. We’re opening five lines this year already,” RTD spokesman Nate Currey said.

On Monday, the Problem Solvers were given a behind-the-scenes look at the brand new airport line and platforms.

Upon arrival at DIA, passengers exit the train onto the platform, and then it's a very short walk to get inside the terminal.

In the terminal, passengers will be able to check their luggage for flights with airport staff and print boarding passes at self-serve kiosks. Passengers will then head up a five-story escalator and into the main airport terminal. It’s the longest escalator in Colorado.

It is important to remember the new train is not the same as light rail. The cars that run to the airport are much bigger and faster. They have luggage and bicycle storage, and can travel up to 79 mph.

The Peoria Station is special.

“This stop is unique in that it’s going to be the only one of our stations where you’ll see both light rail vehicles and commuter rail vehicles in the same platform,” Currey said.

A Line trains run every 15 minutes almost around the clock. On weekdays, the first train leaves Union Station at 3:15 a.m. and the last train leaves the airport at 1:26 a.m.

All of the stations, except for Union Station and Denver Airport Station, offer parking. RTD has already thought ahead and installed high-tech security cameras in case thieves try to target cars while the owners are on vacation.

“They can zero in immediately on what’s going on. They have a very clear view of the tracks, the platform and our entire parking lot,” Currey said.

The cameras are HD and have the ability to zoom all the way in to a vehicle’s VIN in case of an incident.

RTD is expecting an average of 27,000 riders per week on the new airport line. The entire system is expandable in case Denver outgrows the line.

“I don’t think any other city our size, really any size in the United States, can compete with what we’ve got to offer,” Currey said.

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