Self-contained £260m Luton Airport rail link delayed

The stand-alone rail link being built to connect Luton Airport to Luton Parkway station has again been delayed.

The rail link, known as the Luton DART, was originally due to open in 2021 but was pushed back to late 2022 following delays suffered during the pandemic.

A spokesman for airport owner Luton Rising has now announced that it will not open until the end of the year and is expected to start operating in early 2023.

Construction costs for the project have fallen from £225m to £261.7m, according to council accounts for 2020/21.

Luton Rising Managing Director Graham Olver said: “System testing is well advanced, but there are still several important tasks that we are working to complete with our partners.

“These are primarily related to the complexity and alignment of the system’s revenue and ticketing arrangements. It will also give us more time to complete all regulatory, operational and health and safety tests.

“The Luton DART is one of the biggest infrastructure projects ever undertaken locally and will put our city and airport firmly on the map for all the right reasons.

“This is a vital investment that demonstrates our commitment to the continued success of the airport for the benefit of our passengers, airlines and the people of Luton.”

In total, the 2.1 km Dart combines seven different types of structure and an innovative autonomous light rail system.

Starting at a new purpose-built Luton Parkway station – which connects to the Network Rail station – the Dart will travel over a 350m long viaduct, before transitioning to a 72m long steel truss bridge and 1,000 t with a composite deck that spans a dual live carriageway.

The Dart then weaves past the landing lights at Luton Airport, through a 600m long section of cut and fill before entering a 500m wide concrete-based trough section. long.

It then heads underground in a 350m cut-and-cover tunnel, which dives under the airport taxiway and into a new central terminal station, 20m below the current ‘drop-off’ area of ​​the airport.

Once operational, the Dart Luton will transport travelers from Luton Airport Parkway station to the terminal at London Luton Airport in less than four minutes.

It will allow passengers to travel between St Pancras and London Luton Airport in just 30 minutes.

The project is funded and delivered by Luton Council’s airport company, Luton Rising.

In addition to prime contractor VolkerFitzpatrick-Kier, Tony Gee & Partners are acting as lead designer and lead geotechnical consultant with Coffey sub-contracted as additional geotechnical consultant.

The design of the project was carried out by Arup and Doppelmayr Cable Car is supplying the autonomous cable transport system, which was selected for its low environmental impact.

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Jose P. Rogers