Luton Council have released a fly through video of the Luton DART route. The cable hauled propulsion system is expected to open in 2022
Construction of the pioneering Luton DART that will provide faster, more reliable and greener seamless transfers for London Luton Airport’s rail passengers has reached a major milestone with work under way to install its passenger cabins.The fast transit’s energy-efficient, cable-hauled propulsion system is already in place, and now the carriages are being carefully lifted onto the guide rails. The trains will then shortly be seen moving for the first time along the 2.1km route between the terminal and Luton Airport Parkway station, on their way to the maintenance units for works to prepare them for service.
The Luton DART is being delivered by Luton Council’s airport company London Luton Airport Ltd (LLAL) to provide a step change in the passenger experience for train customers travelling to and from the airport on fast East Midlands and Thameslink services, and support ongoing modal shift from road to rail.
Scheduled to open during 2022, ongoing restrictions permitting, it will enable rail journeys of just half an hour between London Luton Airport and St Pancras International by the fastest trains.
Graham Olver, Chief Executive Officer of LLAL, said: “The Luton DART brings a new competitive advantage to our airport’s position in the London system, supports the ongoing prosperity it brings to our town and the region, and demonstrates our ambition to become the greenest as well as the number one community airport in the UK.
“Latest photos and video from the site confirm the amazing progress that has been made throughout an extremely challenging year.”
Councillor Andy Malcolm, Chair of LLAL and Luton Council’s portfolio holder for finance, said: “It is without doubt the biggest and most complex construction project that either the council or LLAL have undertaken to date, and a key part of our long-term goal for 45 per cent of passengers to access the airport by public transport.
“For the project to be so far advanced in the midst of a pandemic is an incredible effort by everyone involved and testament to the importance of this project not just for our airport but also for our town.”
Despite significant challenges posed by coronavirus, safe working on the Luton DART has continued throughout 2020 by the main contractors Volker Fitzpatrick-Kier (VFK) and Doppelmayr.
More than 1,800 people, including 620 within Luton and a 20-mile radius, have already worked around 1.4 million hours on the scheme. The Luton DART has employed 38 apprentices and, through its industry-leading construction skills hub, provided bespoke training for more than 720 people to gain work experience and qualifications that will help them enter the construction industry.
At the heart of the construction are the steel guide rails, now fully installed and comprising 8km of running rails secured with more than 5,700 post-drill anchors.
The propulsion system at DART’s Parkway station is powered by two 3.8m diameter drive wheels weighing around 12 tonnes each. The 4km cables wrap around drums weighing 23 tonnes each, with the gearbox assembly units tipping the scales at an additional nine tonnes.
Network Rail continues to work on construction of the new overbridge, escalators and canopies at Luton Airport Parkway station that will allow train passengers to easily continue the next phase of their journey. Hoardings placed on the platforms for the duration of these works will soon be removed, and work will continue cladding the bridge and constructing a new waiting shelter.
This clears the way for VFK to start the scheme’s final major building work, constructing the link building between the DART and mainline stations at Parkway.
Installation of the fully-equipped central control room will also complete this month, with its power distribution and control systems comprising two 11kV transformers and switch panels.