A £200 million rail link between Luton Parkway train station and Luton Airport has received planning permission from the local council. Set to open by mid-2021, the 1.4 mile line will reduce journey times and save travellers from relying on the existing bus shuttle service.
The move comes as part of a major redevelopment to the airport hub, including renovation of the terminal layout and surrounding roads. It comes ahead of an expected 3.5 million passenger increase over the next four years.
Although at an early planning stage, details of the new railway link have already been revealed:
- The system will be fully automated and driverless.
- It will operate 24 hours a day, seven days a week.
- The new Airport station will be located at Bartlett Square.
- The route will be elevated and will run south, parallel to the existing rail line, until it reaches the A1081 where it will cross the A1081 (Airport Way) via a new ‘Gateway Bridge’.
- The onward route is proposed to run alongside the A1081 Airport Parkway.
- It will use a Mass Passenger Transit (MPT) system.
- Journey times from London could be reduced to 30 minutes, with Parkway/Airport transfers to around 5 minutes.
A contractor has not yet been appointed, although the Airport has put out invitations for bids up to £115 million. A decision is set to be made by October. Engineering firm Arup have already been commissioned to design the MPT link and oversee initial construction contracts.
Luton Borough Council made the final decision in June, voting unanimously to give the green light. Chair of planning at Luton Borough Council, Dave Taylor, has said of project:
“It’s an exciting development which will enhance the passenger experience at Luton. It was approved by all three parties on the council, unanimously, because the airport is a success story for the town and this improves the accessibility to it.”
The Airport believes its expected growth will raise economic output from £1.3 billion to £2.3 billion and create over 10,000 new jobs over the next 15 years. Chair of London Luton Airport, Andy Malcolm, noted:
“Luton is the fastest growing airport in the UK and enjoys excellent road links to London and the North while Luton Airport Parkway also gives excellent rail connectivity to the capital and the Midlands.
“The scheme we are announcing today will provide a seamless five-minute transfer time between Parkway station and the airport terminal. A total journey time of less than 30 minutes from St Pancras to the airport will beat the time from Liverpool Street to Stansted by 20 minutes and better the time from Victoria to Gatwick too.”
Increased regeneration of Luton’s renowned transport links is great news for the commuter town, boosting the local economy, creating jobs and enhancing the property market. It comes after Lendinvest recently named Luton the most profitable destination in the UK for buy-to-let investment.
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