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Luton airport reinforces call for express trains after passenger increase

London Luton Airport (LLA) has reinforced its calls for improved rail access to Luton Airport Parkway (LAP) station following its announcement of a sharp increase in passenger numbers.

Over 1.3 million passengers chose to travel through LLA last month, an 18.7% increase in passenger numbers compared to October of last year.

LLA is seeking the introduction of four fast trains per hour from central London to LAP as part of the upcoming East Midlands refranchising process. These proposals have previously received strong support from the business community as well as Louise Ellman MP, chair of the transport select committee, and Andy McDonald, shadow transport secretary.

Nick Barton, CEO of LLA, commented: “As the fastest-growing major London airport, it is absurd that LLA is the only one with no Express-style service. Each month more and more passengers are choosing to fly from LLA which is why we are currently undertaking this ambitious transformation project to increase our annual capacity.

“Improved connectivity will not only make the journey to and from LLA as simple and efficient as possible for our passengers but also help address capacity constraints across the south east in the short-medium term.”

If these additional fast train services were to come to fruition, LLA would become one of the best-connected London airports due to the £200m light rail link already planned by Luton Borough Council between LAP and the airport terminal. The link is expected to open in 2020.

Independent economic analysis previously revealed that increasing the number of hourly fast trains to LAP from one to four could almost double the number of passengers travelling by train to LLA, reducing traffic congestion and saving 500 tonnes of CO2 in the first year as well as increasing rail revenue by up to £110m.

As this increase in service could be achieved solely through a change to the timetable, the above benefits would come at no cost to the rail operator or DfT.

The proposed new Heathrow runway announced by the government is likely to take at least a decade to become operational. In the short term it is argued that airport capacity in the south east must be increased to meet existing demand.

LLA is currently investing £110m into a transformation project in order to grow its annual capacity by 50% by 2020. However, the transport select committee has identified rail links as a major limiting factor on the airport’s future growth in capacity. 

(Image c. Chris Radburn from PA Wire and PA Images)

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Huguenot   14/11/2016 at 20:37

Luton Airport does indeed deserve a 4tph express service. But EM Trains (or its successor) would be hard put to provide this frequency without compromising its longer-distance passengers. The answer is to stop both St Pancras -- Corby trains (2tph planned) there and let Thameslink provide 2tph to Bedford, first stop Luton Airport Parkway. This would have two advantages: (1) providing TL stations to Bedford with a faster service than the all-stations-from-St Albans crawler that is currently proposed by GTR, and (2) providing Luton Airport with a direct service from the City and South London.

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