London Luton Airport thrilled as rail link gets go-ahead

An artist's impression of the new light rail link.
An artist's impression of the new light rail link.

As the transformation of London Luton Airport (LLA) passes a major milestone, the business reflects on its achievements as passenger numbers continue to rise.

It’s an exciting time for LLA, as planning permission was granted in June for a new fully automated £200 million mass passenger transit (MPT) linking the airport terminal with Luton Airport Parkway (LAP) station.

The 24-hour, 1.4-mile line will replace the existing shuttle bus service and is expected to enter operation in 2021, promising news for the airport as demand continues to rise with over 1.5 million passengers choosing to travel through LLA last month.

Nick Barton, CEO of LLA, said: “The new MPT rail link is a major milestone in the airport’s transformation.

“Passengers will soon enjoy a seamless transfer between LAP and the terminal.

“LLA will be faster to reach from central London than both Gatwick and Stansted. But we want to go further!

“LLA is the fastest growing major airport in the UK, yet it is the only London airport without an express-style service. An improved rail service, in conjunction with the new MPT link, will improve the experience for passengers, and deliver significant environmental benefits.”

Indeed, the latest LLA passenger figures represent a 6.2 per cent increase compared to June 2016 and LLA has now recorded 39 consecutive months of passenger growth.

To meet rising demand, the airport has a big investment programme, planning to increase capacity by 50 per cent.

To make the most of the MPT link, LLA is also calling on the government to introduce an express-style rail service offering at least four trains per hour to central London as part of the refranchising of the East Midlands rail line later this year.

Introducing an express-style service will also contribute an additional £100 million in revenue to government and the rail franchisee, and is expected to take over 70,000 cars per year off the M1 and reduce CO2 emissions by 500 tonnes per year, by encouraging more people to travel to the airport by public transport.