Work underway to install passenger cabins on £225m Luton DART

Progress on the £225m Luton DART has reached another milestone with work underway to install its passenger cabins.

Friday, 19th February 2021, 1:36 pm
Updated Friday, 19th February 2021, 1:38 pm

The direct air to rail transit (DART) will provide faster transfers between the terminal of Luton Airport and Luton Airport Parkway Station.

The DART's cable-hauled propulsion system is already in place, and now the carriages are being lifted on to the guide rails.

Soon, the trains will be seen moving for the first time along the 2.1km route between the terminal and Luton Airport Parkway station, for maintenance works to prepare them for service.

Passenger cabins are being added to the £225m DART
Passenger cabins are being added to the £225m DART

Luton DART is being delivered by the council's airport company London Luton Airport Ltd (LLAL) at a cost of £225m, to provide a step change in the passenger experience for train customers travelling to and from the airport on fast East Midlands and Thameslink services, and support ongoing modal shift from road to rail.

Scheduled to open during 2022, the new system will enable rail journeys of just half an hour between London Luton Airport and St Pancras International by the fastest trains.

Graham Olver, chief executive officer of LLAL, said: “The Luton DART brings a new competitive advantage to our airport’s position in the London system, supports the ongoing prosperity it brings to our town and the region, and demonstrates our ambition to become the greenest as well as the number one community airport in the UK.

“Latest photos and video from the site confirm the amazing progress that has been made throughout an extremely challenging year.”

Despite significant challenges posed by coronavirus, safe working on the Luton DART has continued throughout 2020 by the main contractors Volker Fitzpatrick-Kier (VFK) and Doppelmayr.

More than 1,800 people, including 620 within Luton and a 20-mile radius, have already worked around 1.4 million hours on the scheme.

The Luton DART has employed 38 apprentices and, through its industry-leading construction skills hub, provided bespoke training for more than 720 people to gain work experience and qualifications that will help them enter the construction industry.

At the heart of the construction are the steel guide rails, now fully installed and comprising 8km of running rails secured with more than 5,700 post-drill anchors.

Cllr Andy Malcolm, chair of LLAL and the council's portfolio holder for finance, added: “It is without doubt the biggest and most complex construction project that either the council or LLAL have undertaken to date, and a key part of our long-term goal for 45 per cent of passengers to access the airport by public transport.

“For the project to be so far advanced in the midst of a pandemic is an incredible effort by everyone involved and testament to the importance of this project not just for our airport but also for our town.”