‘Cuts to fast trains would derail Luton economy’

New Thameslink train
New Thameslink train

There is a little more than one month to have your say over proposals to axe many fast train services through Luton and Luton Airport Parkway.

A Government consultation document on the East Midlands rail franchise suggests that many express peak-hour services in and out of London should no longer stop at either of Luton’s two main stations, in a bid to reduce overcrowding.

Luton Council is opposed to the proposals on the grounds that they fail to recognise the importance of Luton’s fast rail links with London and key regional towns and cities as one of the town’s key assets.

Leader of the Council Hazel Simmons said: “Luton’s excellent transports links are an essential element of the successful ongoing work to additional inward investment and economic and employment growth to our borough.

“Residents, commuters and businesses would all be impacted by these proposals, and I am urging everyone to have their say while there is still time.”

In its consultation, the Government says: “Our proposals mean that fewer peak time inter-city trains would stop at Kettering – and none would call at Wellingborough, Bedford, Luton or Luton Airport Parkway – reducing the overcrowding on those inter-city services.

“Instead, in the peak hour, Kettering, Wellingborough, Bedford, Luton and Luton Airport Parkway would be served by trains that started in Corby.”

Cllr James Taylor, Deputy Chair of London Luton Airport Ltd, the council company that owns the airport and is committed to improving the passenger experience with a £200m investment in the DART fast transit link from Parkway to the airport terminal, said: “London Luton Airport is supporting the case for four fast trains per hour to serve Luton Airport Parkway station. However, the DfT is actually proposing to reduce the number of inter-city trains serving the airport.

“When there is only one fast train an hour between London and the East Midlands which calls at London Luton Airport, it is not acceptable to remove it.

“London Luton Airport is one of the region’s major employers and economic drivers, yet the Dft’s proposals severely handicap the economic, social and environmental benefits that enhanced connectivity would bring.”

Cllr Taylor continued: “The argument for four fast trains per hour is supported by the Government’s recently-released ‘call for evidence’ on its National Aviation Strategy, which acknowledges the importance of surface access to airports and states that it wants policy in this area to continue to be effective.

“Enhanced connectivity would contribute significantly to the ongoing success story of growth at London Luton Airport and the benefits that flow to local and regional communities.”

To find out more visit https://www.gov.uk/government/consultations/future-of-east-midlands-rail-franchise

A petition is also available at www.change.org/p/secretary-of-state-for-transport-keep-intercity-trains-for-luton-bedford-wellingborough-melton-mowbray-oakham-etc?recruiter=29697568&utm_source=share_petition&utm_medium=twitter&utm_campaign=share_petition&utm_term=share_for_starters_page