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Luton DART: A New Milestone in Accessible, Sustainable and Seamless Transport

Luton DART: A New Milestone in Accessible, Sustainable and Seamless Transport
photo: DART: A New Milestone in Accessible, Sustainable and Seamless Transport
02 / 03 / 2023

After three years of construction works, the Luton Direct Air-Rail Transit (DART) is finally set to begin passenger operation by the end of March, according to the joint statement from Luton Rising and Luton Council. Although the service will operate on a restricted timetable, passengers will be able to benefit from the rail transport services connecting London Luton Airport to Luton Airport Parkway station for the first time.

Initially, the service will operate for four hours per day from 10th March and gradually extend towards a 24-hour service over three weeks. The Luton DART is a 2.1 km fully automated people mover that will transport passengers between the airport terminal and Luton Airport Parkway in just over three minutes. It is designed to support seamless and sustainable travel to London Luton Airport, connecting to more than 60 stations across the rail network, and will replace the current bus transfer service once it is fully operational.

The journey from London St Pancras International to the airport terminal will take 32 minutes on the Luton Airport Express, operated by East Midlands Railway, while it will take around 40 minutes on Thameslink's current frequent services.

One of the DART's most significant features is its accessibility, especially for passengers with reduced mobility. The stations are equipped with new lifts, escalators, tactile paving, audio frequency induction loops, and several help points, which will provide a seamless, accessible journey for all passengers.

The Leader of Luton Council, Cllr Hazel Simmons MBE, expressed her enthusiasm for the Luton DART, calling it one of the most significant infrastructure projects in Luton's history. She believes that the system, which is powered by electricity, energy-efficient, and designed for sustainable growth, will encourage more travellers to take the train instead of driving to the airport. Additionally, the Luton DART is equipped with features that cater to passengers with reduced mobility, including lifts, escalators, and tactile paving. These amenities, combined with the automated people mover's connectivity to more than 60 rail stations, will provide passengers with a seamless and accessible journey.

Approved in 2017, the construction of the Luton DART was performed by a joint venture of VolkerFitzpatrick and Kier Group, and it is now close to providing an essential and convenient transport option for millions of passengers travelling to and from London Luton Airport.