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Luton DART obtains authority to operate

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Luton DART (Direct Air-Rail Transit), the automated people-mover that is being built to shuttle passengers between Luton Airport station and the airport terminal, has received its authority to operate when it opens next year.

In a letter to law firm Addleshaw Goddard dated 14 June 2021, Secretary of State Grant Shapps accepted London Luton Airport’s application for an order under the Transport and Work Act “to operate the passenger transit system that will provide a mode of transit for passengers between Luton Airport Parkway railway station and the Central Terminal at London Luton Airport. It will also make provision in connection with the operation of the system, provide for fares to be charged for the use of the system and for the issuing of penalty fares and to give effect to byelaws which regulate travel on the system.”

The DART will replace the shuttle buses that currently transport passengers between Luton Parkway station and the airport. The reliability and journey time of the bus service can be affected by traffic congestion, difficult to predict in advance, which can lead to stressful and delayed journeys to the airport.

Impression of Luton Parkway station when the DART opens in 2022.

When it opens in 2022, the cable-driven DART will operate 24 hours a day, seven days a week, and carry passengers between the railway station and the airport terminal in four minutes. Being built by a joint venture of VolkerFitzpatrick and Kier (VFK), construction work includes:

  • Luton DART Parkway and Luton DART Terminal stations;
  • Gateway bridge, over Airport Way;
  • Viaduct, leading out from Luton DART Parkway station;
  • Tunnel and approaches to the airport terminal;
  • Maintenance area.

The cable guidance system is being supplied by Dopplemayr UK and the vehicles themselves have been manufactured in Austria by Carvatech. The first vehicle was lifted onto the tracks at Luton for testing in March 2021.

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