Friday 24th May 2019
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17/04/2018 - Work gets under way on the Luton DART

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Dart ground breaking

A ground-breaking ceremony today (Tuesday 17 April) marked the official start of works on the state-of-the-art £225m Luton DART fast transit system, linking London Luton Airport with Luton Airport Parkway railway station.

Lord Porter of Spalding, Chairman of the Local Government Association, turned the first sods of earth watched by Cllr Hazel Simmons, Leader of Luton Council, and Cllr Andy Malcolm, Chair of the Council’s airport company London Luton Airport Ltd (LLAL).

The Luton DART’s seamless journey time from Luton Airport Parkway to the airport terminal will be well under four minutes – enabling fast, easy access from central London to the departure terminal of the UK’s fifth biggest and fastest-growing major airport in 30 minutes by the fastest train.

Cllr Hazel Simmons said: “The Council is proud to be at the forefront of creating a brighter future for Luton, and this is another exciting landmark moment in the ongoing transformation of our town under the £1.5 billion Luton Investment Framework.

“The Luton DART will benefit not only airport passengers but also the people and businesses of Luton in that it supports our ambitions to secure long-term economic growth and ensure local people have access to high-quality employment opportunities. We are all looking forward to the Luton DART opening in 2021.”

LLAL awarded contracts in December for the civil works with VolkerFitzpatrick-Kier joint venture and for the transportation system with Doppelmayr Cable Car UK Ltd.

The project has full planning permission from Luton and Central Bedfordshire councils, and is on track to be ready for operation by spring 2021. It will create 500 construction jobs over three years, 30 apprenticeships, and 17 permanent positions.

Cllr Andy Malcolm said: “Luton Airport has come a long way from the grass airstrip that opened 80 years ago. It is experiencing unparalleled success, with a 50 per cent increase in passenger numbers since 2014.
“The Luton DART will support ongoing growth to 18 million passengers per year by 2021, and make sure the passenger experience we provide is significantly enhanced.”

The Luton DART will be a double-shuttle, fully-automated people-mover (APM) based on latest system technology and design innovation, and capable of operating 24 hours a day, seven days a week. The cable-driven system is energy efficient and environmentally friendly.

The 2.1km route will run between two purpose-built stations at Bartlett Square and the airport terminal, crossing a new gateway bridge over Airport Way. In peak time, a service will leave each station every four minutes.

As a key delivery partner for the Luton Investment Framework, LLAL is also bringing forward significant commercial developments at New Century Park, Bartlett Square and, later, a revitalised Airport Business Park.

The Luton DART is helping to open up these opportunities for development throughout the London Luton Airport Enterprise Zone, supported by SEMLEP and Government, which will create 7,200 new jobs.

Cllr Malcolm added: “This investment by the Council and its airport company will encourage and transform the experience of those travelling to the airport by rail, thereby helping to reduce congestion on the roads, and confirms our confidence in Luton’s potential for economic and employment growth.

“The journey time from St Pancras of less than 30 minutes will beat Liverpool Street to Stansted by 20 minutes and will be faster than Victoria to Gatwick too.

“Luton as a town is on schedule to create 18,500 new quality jobs for local people that will drive 
improvements to health and wellbeing, raise aspirations and enhance prosperity.”

Markus Schrentewein, Chief Executive Officer of Doppelmayr Cable Car, said: “Doppelmayr is excited to form another partnership within the UK. The Luton DART will be the second APM system built by Doppelmayr in the UK after the air-rail link at Birmingham International Airport.

“With over 125 years of experience in making people mobile, we relish making long-term connections within the community by delivering not just an environmentally-friendly transit system, but also providing world-class operational service throughout the lifetime of the system. We are also excited about partnering with local educational institutions to help develop Luton’s future great minds.”

Richard Offord, managing director for VolkerFitzpatrick, said: “We are very pleased to continue our long-standing relationship with Luton through this important project that will improve accessibility for the airport. This exciting contract will see us utilising a combination of our expertise in highways, airports and rail infrastructure.

"Together with our joint venture partner Kier, we will be engaging with the local community and supply chain in the delivery of this scheme and seeking to offer job opportunities, apprenticeships and placements to local residents.”

Nigel Brook, Kier executive director, construction and infrastructure services, said: “We are delighted to have been awarded this important scheme for London Luton Airport. It will transform journey times for airport visitors and showcases our capability to deliver large infrastructure projects across the country following the recently completed Mersey Gateway Bridge and current projects with HS2 and Crossrail.

"Working in joint venture with Volker Fitzpatrick we are looking forward to seeing the role this plays in an exciting future both for the airport and Luton.”

Nick Barton, Chief Executive Officer of London Luton Airport Operations Ltd (LLAOL), said: “The DART will play an important role in achieving our goal of being a bigger and better airport – one that creates easy and enjoyable experiences and makes sustainable travel an essential part of our growth.

"To maximise the DART’s benefits we need to make it better for more passengers to get here by train. That’s why we’re calling for an increase in rail services as part of the Department for Transport’s current consultation on the East Midlands franchise.”   

Sophie Dekkers, Director, UK market for easyJet, said: “easyJet welcomes the new direct rail link connecting Luton Airport Parkway train station with the airport for the enhanced passenger experience it promises to deliver. We already encourage our passengers to travel by rail and we hope the number of easyJet passengers who arrive by rail at London Luton Airport will increase with this new, faster and easier link. 

“We now fly over six million passengers a year to and from London Luton and the redevelopment of the airport was a key factor in our commitment to double our passenger numbers over the next 10 years.”

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