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Luton Airport Parkway targets faster trains

EMT 43073 at Nottingham on July 29 2016. More Midland Main Line expresses such as this should call at Luton Airport Parkway according to London Luton Airport's Chief Executive. RICHARD CLINNICK.

London Luton Airport Chief Executive Nick Barton is calling on the four shortlisted bidders for the new East Midlands franchise to commit to quadrupling the frequency of inter-city services calling at Luton Airport Parkway.

The station is currently served each hour by four to six local stopping services operated by Thameslink, but only one East Midlands Trains service between St Pancras International and Nottingham.

Barton argues that this makes LLA the only major London airport without a dedicated express-style service of four fast trains per hour to the capital. He hopes to rectify that through the refranchising process.

The Department for Transport is currently inviting responses to its consultation document for the new franchise, which commences in August 2019 (RAIL 832).

In the LLA response, Barton will argue that this increased frequency of fast trains could be achieved at no additional cost - by re-timetabling more of the five hourly EMT services that currently depart from St Pancras International and take just 20 minutes to complete the 29-mile journey to Luton Airport Parkway, but which travel non-stop to destinations further north including Leicester, Derby and Sheffield.

Speaking exclusively to RAIL, Barton said the improved connectivity was needed to keep pace with rising demand for air travel nationally, and to help the airport reach its annual passenger target of 18 million passengers by 2020.

The council-owned airport has also applied for planning permission to build a £200m one-mile-long mass passenger transit system linking Luton Airport Parkway with the airport, that could be operational by 2021.

“We will be submitting a detailed response to the consultation, as the importance of the airport for the region and the economy cannot be disputed. It is absolutely critical that we should be looking to maximise the reach of our airport,” said Barton.


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  • Philip Walker - 24/08/2017 13:23

    I hardly think the loss of non-stop services to Leicester and the slower journey times to the cities of Leicester, Derby and Nottingham that would result from adding a Luton Airport Parkway stop, will go down well. Nottingham has already suffered loss of its fast services calling only at Leicester. Luton Airport Parkway would be better serviced by faster Thameslink services, although the new Class 700 rolling stock is unsuitable and unpopular due to cramped seating etc.

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    • John N - 29/08/2017 08:07

      My original reply seems to have got lost probably because because I forgot to enter a name. I think the authorities at Luton Airport should understand that stopping more intercity diesels at the Parkway station is not really an environmentally friendly solution to the problem of needing more trains to and from the north of England, not to mention the cost of the extra diesel fuel which would be used, especially when there is going to be 70 miles of electrified track from London to Kettering (going on to Corby). If the proposed two electric trains an hour to Corby were to call at LA Parkway the intercity diesels could run non-stop between St Pancras and Kettering and still provide better connectivity than we have at present as well as giving a faster service from Nottingham. although it would mean one extra stop at Kettering for the Derby train. It will be a few years before the bi-mode trains start to run and perhaps it would be feasible then for the Sheffield train and possible other intercities to call at Luton Airport Parkway to set down only going south, and pick up only going north

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  • James Miller - 24/08/2017 21:09

    I don't think it's the trains that are the problem at Luton Aurport. It's the distance between the station and the Airport. From where I live in East London, Saint Pancras is a terrible interchange to both the MML and Thameslink, as you walk down endless passageways from the Victoria Line to get a main line train. I always use West Hampstead to get to Bedford and tend to avoid Luton Airport, because of the bad connections in London at St. Pancras.

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  • FrankH - 24/08/2017 23:25

    With 1 fast @20min, 3 semi fast @30-32 minutes and 3 stoppers per hour @47 minutes I think the airport has sufficient service to london. EMT or their succesor is hardly going to put the airport as a priority. The slowest is still 30 minutes quicker than the coach service. Nick Barton should be looking for extra services which are not on EMT or Thameslink routes, not everyone comes from London to use the airport.

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  • AndrewJGwilt1989 - 25/08/2017 01:13

    I think that the new Luton Airport light rail mass transit could start construction from late next year and to be completed in late 2019 or early 2020. Or could start from late 2019 and to be completed in mid-late 2020. As it will get rid of the shuttle buses that operates from the "Parkway" station to the airport main terminal at London Luton Airport. As it take at least 5 minutes and is much quicker than using shuttle buses which can get stuck in traffic along the way.

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  • Noam Bleicher - 25/08/2017 08:28

    NO NO NO NO NO! The purpose of the MML is to provide fast journeys between LEI, NOT, DBY, SHF and London, as well as between themselves. It is not to provide journey opportunities to a secondary budget airport, largely catering for holidaymakers. There will be frequent Thameslink services to Parkway and there is an existing hourly inter-city service. This should be good enough.

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  • AndrewJGwilt1989 - 25/08/2017 22:00

    Good idea. That would means you can go from Nottingham, Derby, Leicester, Kettering, Corby and Loughborough to Luton Airport Parkway without having to change at Bedford and use Thameslink. Aswell from London St. Pancras and West Hampstead Thameslink to Luton Airport Parkway.

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