Left: An artist’s representation of the new light rail link between Luton Airport Parkway station and the airport
Plans to improve rail access to Luton Airport Parkway (LAP) rail station in Bedfordshire, in the UK, has been backed by independent economic analysis with support from Confederation of British Industry (CBI) and EasyJet, as well as Louise Ellman MP, chair of the Transport Select Committee, and Andy McDonald MP, shadow transport secretary.
The improved rail plans involve the introduction of four fast trains per hour from central London to LAP as part of the upcoming East Midlands rail refranchising process. The additional fast train services will help create journey times of less than 30 minutes from central London to London Luton Airport (LLA) when combined with Luton Borough Council’s planned £200m (US$243m) light rail link project.
According to the independent economic analysis, increasing the number of hourly fast trains to LAP from one to four could significantly increase rail revenue by up to £110m (US$134m) at no cost to the rail operator or Department for Transport, and could almost double the number of passengers traveling by train to the airport; reducing traffic congestion by 70,000 journeys and saving 500 tons of CO₂ annually.
Nick Barton, CEO, LLA said, “The current £110m (US$134m) development of LLA will grow the number of passengers by 50% to 18 million a year by 2020. Rail infrastructure upgrades are needed to ensure that this capacity can be efficiently and sustainably used. The introduction of Express type services has clear benefits to people all along the line from north to south as well as generating significant revenue benefits for the rail industry.
“The East Midlands refranchising is a huge opportunity to create an integrated end-to-end transport hub for the benefit of the UK and Three Counties region in particular. Luton is at the intersection of two strategically important economic corridors from north to south along with Midland Mainline, and from east to west between the high employment, high skill Oxford-Cambridge corridor. There is a clear economic and social benefit to improving connectivity in the region.”
Sophie Dekkers, UK country director at EasyJet, said, “Despite the airport’s strategic importance for the UK, LLA has the lowest share of passengers using public transport of the London airports and lacks the express service that other London airports and their passengers benefit from. Simply stopping more of the fast trains that already pass through the station will provide a significant benefit to passengers from London as well as passengers in the East Midlands at the other end of the line.”
The importance of freeing up capacity in the South East in the short-term has been recognised with backing from the Chair of the Transport Select Committee and the Shadow Secretary of State for Transport.
Louise Ellman, chair of the Transport Select Committee, said, “Surface access to airports is critically important. These proposals must be seriously considered to enable Luton airport to continue to attract a growing number of passengers.”
Andy McDonald, shadow secretary of state for transport, said, “Improving the rail connections to our airports is key to growing passenger numbers and getting as many airline passengers as possible to leave their cars at home. The East Midlands refranchising is a big opportunity for Luton that should be looked at closely.”