The UK’s biggest business organisations and the country’s largest airline are backing London Luton Airport’s call on government to improve rail access to Luton Airport Parkway station.
The CBI, easyJet and the FSB are amongst a number of organisations to support the requirement to introduce four fast trains per hour from central London to Luton Airport Parkway (LAP) as part of the upcoming East Midlands rail refranchising process.
The Express style services will free up airport capacity in the south east – long before a new runway at Heathrow or Gatwick is built – and transform access from the North and South to the fastest-growing major London airport*.
According to an independent economic analysis released today*, increasing the number of hourly fast trains to LAP from one to four – just through timetable change – could significantly increase rail revenue by up to £110 million at no cost to the rail operator or DfT, and could almost double the number of passengers travelling by train to the airport. This would reduce traffic congestion by 70,000 journeys and save 500 tonnes of CO2 in the first year alone.
DfT’s own projections show demand for air travel will more than double by 2050*, while the Airport Commission has said it is “imperative” that all airports fulfil their potential to grow connectivity in the near-term as any new runway capacity is at least a decade away. The Transport Select Committee has identified rail links as a major limiting factor to achieving that.
Alongside Luton Borough Council’s planned £200 million light rail link between Luton Airport Parkway station and the terminal, the additional fast train services will make LLA one of the best-connected London airports with journey times of less than 30 minutes from central London.
Nick Barton, CEO of LLA said; “The current £110m redevelopment of LLA will grow the number of passengers by 50% to 18 million a year by 2020. Rail service improvements are needed to ensure that this capacity can be efficiently and sustainably used. The introduction of Express type services on existing infrastructure has clear benefits to people all along the line from north to south as well as generating significant revenue benefits for the rail industry.
“The East Midlands refranchising is a huge opportunity to create an integrated end-to-end transport hub for the benefit of the UK and Beds, Herts and Bucks region in particular. Luton is at the intersection of two strategically important economic corridors from north to south along with Midland Mainline, and from east to west between the high employment and high skill Cambridge and Oxford corridor. There is a clear economic and social benefit to improving connectivity in the region.”
Sophie Dekkers, UK Country Director at easyJet said; “Despite London Luton’s strategic importance for the UK, LLA has the lowest share of passengers using public transport of the London airports and lacks the Express service that other London airports and their passengers benefit from. Simply stopping more of the fast trains that already pass through the station will provide a significant benefit to passengers from London as well as passengers in the east midlands at the other end of the line.”
The importance of freeing up capacity in the south east in the short-term has been recognised with backing from the Chair of the Transport Select Committee and the Shadow Secretary of State for Transport.
Louise Ellman MP, Chair of the Transport Select Committee said; “Surface access to airports is critically important. These proposals must be seriously considered to enable Luton airport to continue to attract a growing number of passengers.”
Andy McDonald MP, Shadow Secretary of State for Transport
“Improving the rail connections to our airports is key to growing passenger numbers and getting as many airline passengers as possible to leave their cars at home. The East Midlands refranchising is a big opportunity for Luton that should be looked at closely.”