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Work starts on £225m air-rail link at London Luton Airport

Lord Porter of Spalding, chairman of the Local Government Association, turned the first sods of earth, watched by Luton Council leader Cllr Hazel Simmons and Cllr Andy Malcolm, chair of the council’s airport company London Luton Airport Ltd at the event yesterday (Tuesday).

The Luton DART’s journey time from Luton Airport Parkway to the airport terminal will be well under four minutes.

Cllr 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.”
The DART project, which will cost £225 million, is due to open in 2021.

Airport chief executive Nick Barton said: “As more and more passengers choose to travel through London Luton Airport, it has never been more important that they can reach the airport easily. The DART represents a great stride.”

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

The project has full planning permission from Luton and Central Bedfordshire councils and will create 500 construction jobs over three years, 30 apprenticeships, and 17 permanent positions.

Cllr Malcolm said: “Luton Airport is experiencing unparalleled success, with a 50% 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 (based on latest system technology and design innovation, and capable of operating 24 hours a day, seven days a week.

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.

The Luton project will be the second APM system built by Doppelmayr Cable Car in the UK. The first was at Birmingham International Airport.

Doppelmayr chief executive Markus Schrentewein said: “Doppelmayr is excited to form another partnership within the UK. 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.”

Richard Offord, managing director of 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.

"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, added: “It will transform journey times for airport visitors and showcases our capability to deliver large infrastructure projects across the country.”

Sophie Dekkers, director, UK market for easyJet, said: “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 ten years."

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