Luton airport has formed a partnership with Abellio, which will operate the East Midlands Railway (EMR) franchise until 2027, to launch an express service next year.
The partnership will invest more than £600 million in improvements to rail services across the East Midlands and between Bedford, Corby, Wellingborough, Kettering, Luton Airport Parkway and London St Pancras.
Improvements include a new “Luton Airport Express”-style service operated by an all-electric fleet of trains that will also serve Luton, Corby, Kettering, Wellingborough and Bedford from December 2020. The line will also offer “fast” trains between St Pancras and Luton Airport Parkway every 30 minutes.
Other changes EMR is planning include replacing the entire intercity train fleet linking cities in the North and East Midlands to St Pancras, as well as £20 million in station improvements including new waiting areas for all EMR passengers with additional seating and updated lounge areas.
The operator also plans more cycle and car parking, as well as the roll-out of smart ticketing by 2020.
Alberto Martin, CEO of Luton airport, said: “We welcome the arrival of EMR and the commitment to provide an express-style service to the airport every half an hour from December 2020. Along with the arrival of the £225 million Direct Air-Rail Transit (DART) service in 2021, linking Luton Airport Parkway station directly with the airport terminal, we will see a step change in rail connectivity between London and its fastest-growing airport.
“Once the developments are completed, passengers will be able to reach the airport terminal in a little under half an hour from central London. This transformation of service with its own sub brand, website, easier ticketing and dedicated platform at St Pancras will be welcome by all passengers who travel to us by rail.”
Dominic Booth, MD of Abellio UK, added: “Abellio is delighted to have been entrusted to operate East Midlands Railway and we’ve already started on our £600 million investment package to transform rail services from towns like Corby, Bedford and also Luton airport into London St Pancras station.”