The Anonymous Widower

Construction Of The Luton Direct Air-Rail Transit (DART) Has Started

The Luton DART will connect Luton Airport to Luton Airport Parkway station.

This map from the London Luton Airport web site shows the route.


It is comprehensive with three planned stations.

  • Luton Airport Parkway station.
  • Central Terminal
  • as it is planned to build a stop at the Mid-Stay car park, at a later date.

Note how the DART runs along the Airport side of the Midland Main Line before crossing over into the Airport on the Gateway Bridge, which is shown as an inset on the map.

These pictures show the construction of the DART underway at Luton Airport Parkway station.

It certainly looks substantial.

According to Wikipedia, it will open in 2021.

September 3, 2019 Posted by | Transport | , , | 1 Comment

East Midlands Railway Announces Three Brands

The title if this article is the same as that of this article on Railway Gazette.

This is a quote about their electric trains to Corby, which will run under the brand name of EMR Electrics.

EMR said that once various developments had been completed, passengers would be able to reach the terminal at Luton Airport in ‘a little under half an hour’ from central London.

Currently, the fastest services going to between St. Pancras and Luton Airport Parkway stations take twenty-four minutes using 125 mph Class 222 trains with Luton Airport Parkway as the first stop.

Thameslink using 100 mph Class 700 trains take 30 minutes and more!

I question, whether the 100 mph Class 360 trains, running with Luton Airport Parkway as the first stop, can do the trip in the 24-26 minutes to get to the terminal in under half an hour, even with Luton Airport’s  DART shuttle train working!

In Are Class 360 Trains Suitable For St. Pancras And Corby?, I looked at Class 360 trains running the service between St. Pancras and Corby stations.

I came to this conclusion.

In my view there is a lot of upgrade work to be done to the Class 360 trains to make them suitable for working on the services between St. Pancras and Corby.

  • They need a new upgraded interior.
  • The trains need upgrading to at least 110 mph.
  • A possible upgrading with digital signalling.

I can’t help feeling that the Class 360 trains would make a good stop-gap, but in the long-term it might be better to have a small fleet of electric trains.

Electric AT-300 trains must be one of the favourites, although Class 745 trains, similar to those that Abellio will run between Liverpool Street and Stansted Airport, would do nicely.

So will East Midlands Railway have updated and faster Class 360 trains or will they be bringing in 125 mph trains to hit the required schedule to Luton Airport Parkway?


Luton Airport will have a real Airport Express!

But will the Class 360 trains, be able to deliver it? I have my doubts!

August 21, 2019 Posted by | Transport | , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Work Starts On £225m Luton Airport Automated People-Mover

The title of this post is the same as that of this article on Global Rail News.

This is said about the contractors.

A VolkerFitzpatrick-Kier joint venture is the project’s civil works contractor and Doppelmayr Cable Car UK is supplying the APM system.

Note that Doppelmayr Cable Car  built the Emirates Air-Line and the AirRail Link at Birmingham Airport.

This video shows the proposed system at Luton Airport.

It appears to be very similar to the Birmingham system.

This Google Map shows the position of the terminal at Luton Airport Parkway station.

The terminal is in Bartlett Square, which is indicated by the red arrow in the top right corner.

My initial thought, is that it could be a long walk for some.

April 18, 2018 Posted by | Transport | , , , , | Leave a comment

Luton Trains Its Eye On Sub 30-Minute Express

This was the headline on a small piece in The Times on Monday.

Luton Airport want the following from the new East Midlands Franchise.

  • A dedicated fast train.
  • Four trains an hour (tph) to and from St. Pancras.
  • A journey time of less than thirty minutes.

The airport says it won’t need any new infrastructure, but they are planning a fast link from Luton Airport Parkway station, which I wrote about in Luton Airport Goes For Light Rail.

This is an extract from the article..

The move would add up to £110million of extra fare revenue to the government over ten years and take almost 1 million cars off the road, a study by North Star, the consultancy found.

At present there are two separate services to Luton Airport.

  • Thameslink, which leaves from the low-level Thameslink platform takes 45 minutes to the airport, with a frequency of six tph.
  • East Midlands Trains, which leave from the high-level platforms take around 30 minutes to the airport, with a frequency of 1-2 tph.

Note these points about the current service.

  • The lack of a dedicated platform for the fast trains to the airport, must confuse occassional passengers.
  • The time of sub-thirty minutes is certainly possible on East Midlands Trains.
  • There is not enough platforms in the high-level station for a dedicated platform for an express Luton Airport service.

The problems are made worse by A Fur Coat And No Knickers Station at St. Pancras.

The new franchise will probably be buying new electric trains for the Midland Main Line services. These could be key to providing an express airport service to Luton Airport.

Abellio has stated that their new Flirts and Aventras for Greater Anglia, will have a very fast stop and restart time, thus enabling services like Norwich in Ninety and Ipswich in Sixty.

So we then have the possibility of similar trains on the Midland Main Line  to Corby, Derby, Leicester, Nottingham and Sheffield stopping at Luton Airport Parkway, without adding a large delay to the service. This would give Luton Airport, the following express services.

  • At least four tph to and from St. Pancras in under thirty ,minutes.
  • At least two tph to and from Derby, Nottingham and Sheffield.
  • At least three tph to and from Leicester.

The only complaints would come from East Midlands Airport.

As there will be at least eight tph on Thameslink, this should be enough trains for everyone.


October 26, 2016 Posted by | Transport | , , , , | 1 Comment

Luton Airport Goes For Light Rail

This article in The Guardian is entitled Luton airport to replace bus transfers with £200m light rail link.

Passengers will take the light rail link between Luton Airport and Luton Airport Parkway station, where they will use Thameslink and Midland Main Line trains to travel North and South.

This Google Map shows the area, where the rail link will run.

Luton Airport And Luton Airport Parkway Station

Luton Airport And Luton Airport Parkway Station

The Midland main Line and the station are close to the end of the runway.

A few months ago, an article in Railway Technology was entitled Luton Airport reveals plans for new direct rail service.

What isn’t shown from the map, but is very much obvious if you’ve piloted an aircraft out of Luton Airport, is that the end of the runway is on top of a hill and the railway is at the bottom.

I said this in Will Bombardier Develop The Ultimate Airport Train? about running trains into a Luton Airport station.

I think that railway engineers can create an elegant junction here, where trains can easily go in both directions between London and the Airport. Designing a line connecting the North and the Airport could be more difficult, but even so given the terrain and that some of the junction will be inside the airport boundary, a solution must be possible.

One thing that could help, is that if Class 387/2 IPEMUs were to be used on all Luton Airport services, then the branch would not need to be electrified.

If it was decided to run it in a tunnel under the car parks, then surely a tunnel without overhead wiring would be a smaller, simpler and more affordable proposition.

As the Railway Technology article was only published in July 2015, after promising results from the IPEMU train, could it be that this rail link is not possible with conventionally-powered electric trains?

But I now think that there are other problems with a direct rail link into the airport, even with the help of IPEMU and other recently-developed technology.

  • In other documents, it is stated that Luton Airport wants four trains an hour to the capital and it has to be asked if there are enough paths available to the South.
  • It probably is more difficult than I thought to run trains to and from the North to the airport.

I also wonder, if after Luton Airport Parkway station has been rebuilt for the light rail link, that this might open up other possibilities for development in this part of Luton.

I also found the original press release about the link. This is said.

The light rail link is part of a broader rail connectivity improvement plan, which aims to introduce a 20 minute express rail service with four fast trains per hour between LLA and central London as part of the upcoming East Midlands rail franchise. LLA is also currently working with Transport for London to add the airport to the Oyster network which will help ensure smooth connections for passengers travelling by rail.

Everything will hopefully become clearer, when the full plans for the link are published.

In a few months time, when Luton and Gatwick have contactless ticketing, who will be next in the queue; Heathrow or Stansted?

Transport for London have certainly started the game of contactless cards, by playing two powerful aces.

I wouldn’t be surprised to see Stansted and Southend accept contactless ticketing before the end of 2016, leaving Heathrow as the odd one out!



April 15, 2016 Posted by | Transport | , , , , | 1 Comment