London Luton Airport has announced a 20-year £1.5bn inward investment programme, including plans for a £200m light rail system linking the airport with Luton Airport Parkway railway station.
Owners, London Luton Airport Ltd (LLAL), said the system would be a ‘fully-automated, two-way, 24-hour, guided light rail’ service, which could enable a quickest direct journey time to London St Pancras of under 30 minutes.
Concept drawing for the guided light rail link
LLAL said the wider £1.5bn plans would deliver a ‘major transformation’ of Luton with construction already under way on a separate £110m redevelopment programme.
The ambition is to increase the airport's capacity by 50% to 18 million passengers per year by 2020.
Arup has been appointed to design and procure the light rail scheme, with a planning application scheduled for the early autumn. Work could begin in 2017 with the system ready for operation by the end of 2020, LLAL said.
Cllr Andy Malcolm, chair of LLAL, said: ‘Luton is the fastest growing airport in the UK and enjoys excellent road links to London and the North while Luton Airport Parkway also gives excellent rail connectivity to the capital and the Midlands.
'The scheme we are announcing today will provide a seamless five-minute transfer time between Parkway station and the airport terminal.
'A total journey time of less than 30 minutes from St Pancras to the airport will beat the time from Liverpool Street to Stansted by 20 minutes and better the time from Victoria to Gatwick too.’
The preferred 2.2km route for the light rail scheme runs between two purpose-built stations, alongside the mainline railway, and passes through the airport’s existing mid-term car park before arriving at the central terminal area.
The growth of London Luton Airport is predicted to increase its economic impact by 77% from £1.3bn to £2.3bn by 2030 and create 10,500 new jobs over the next 15 years, LLAL said.