THE LUTON DART rapid transit system connecting London Luton Airport with national rail services welcomed its first paying passengers today (Monday).
The DART connects the airport terminal and the mainline railway at Luton Airport Parkway station where there are direct services to more than 60 stations. It replaces the previous bus service.
Cllr Hazel Simmons, leader of Luton Council, said: “It was as long ago as 2014 that we first began thinking about how we could improve our airport’s rail passenger transfer, how it could be a world-class experience to tempt people away from their cars, and how it could be futureproofed to support onward growth. Here we are now, on the cusp of an exciting new era for our town, our airport, and the people of Luton who benefit from its success.”
Luton Rising – the council-owned company that in turns owns the airport – has provided the council with more than £300 million for the front-line services that Luton people rely on and the charitable sector with a further £180 million that supports some of the town’s most vulnerable residents.
“The Luton DART helps secure this support, and the economic and employment growth of the airport, for future generations,” said Luton Rising chair Cllr Javeria Hussein.
“We also want to be known as an environmental exemplar, and the Luton DART is significant evidence of the environmental thinking that has also led to our development of a unique Green Controlled Growth framework for the airport’s long-term proposed expansion.”
Graham Olver, chief executive of Luton Rising, added: “The Luton DART provides new speed, reliability and convenience for rail passengers. In improving the connectivity between the national rail network and our airport system, it is also a game changer for our airport’s competitive position in the London and UK aviation systems – and that secures and enhances prospects for everyone who relies on our airport for their own prosperity.”
At the launch celebration pictured above, Mayor Cllr Sameera Saleem was joined by Luton Town FC legend Mick Harford left and Grammy Award-winning Luton-born film composer David Arnold to cut a ribbon.
The highly-acclaimed Luton Youth Funk Orchestra serenaded guests with live performances of ‘Come Fly With Me’, immortalised by Frank Sinatra, on the Luton DART.
London Luton Airport’s chief executive Alberto Martin pictured left said: “The DART is a transformational development for London Luton Airport. Luton Rising’s investment in the DART will fundamentally enhance the simple and friendly passenger experience we work hard to deliver each day, offering a faster, more convenient airport transfer for rail passengers and supporting our commitment to deliver enhanced connectivity to the airport.
“But the impact of the DART will go beyond the enhanced ease and convenience for passengers. It will also be instrumental in the airport’s plans for future sustainable growth, encouraging passengers away from their cars and on to public transport. We look forward to welcoming the many thousands of passengers who will choose to arrive at our terminal via the DART.”
Rail bosses have welcomed the DART’s opening.
“The DART represents the beginning of an exciting new chapter for Luton and we are proud to be part of such an environmentally and economically important project,” said East Midlands Railway
Govia Thameslink Railway’s infrastructure director Keith Jipps added: “DART is great news for Luton and for our customers. It means we can offer a faster, more frequent, easier and more environmentally friendly airport transfer. Rail is the most sustainable public transport available, yet just one in five trips are made by train. With DART, working closely with Luton Rising and the airport, we hope to grow that number significantly for everyone’s benefit.”
- All passengers holding a concessionary bus pass, such as pensioners, people with a disability or acting as companion travellers, will be entitled to register to use the Luton DART for free, along with Luton Airport staff. Residents of Luton are also entitled to register for half-priced travel. For all these concessionary fares, go to www.lutondart.com and register at least 72 hours before travel.