London Luton Airport and Abellio announce launch of express rail service

London Luton Airport Terminal exterior. Photo by London Luton
London Luton Airport Terminal exterior. Photo by London Luton

London Luton Airport (LLA) and Abellio have announced the launch of an express rail service between London St Pancras and Luton Airport Parkway.

The partnership will bring a package of more than £600 million investment in improvements to rail services across the East Midlands and between Bedford, Corby, Wellingborough, Kettering, Luton Aiport Parkway and London St Pancras.

East Midlands Railway, which will be operated by Abellio, will oversee the delivery of improvements to improve customers’ experience, improve rail connections and drive economic growth including more regular services between London St Pancras station and Luton Airport, with a new ‘Luton Airport Express’ style-service operated by a new all-electric fleet of trains that will also serve Luton, Corby, Kettering, Wellingborough and Bedford.

This new rail service will come into service by December 2020, and will feature fast trains between St Pancras and Luton Airport Parkway every 30 minutes.

The positive changes to be brought in by EMR include the replacement of the entire intercity train fleet that will link cities in the North and East Midlands to London St Pancras, and the introduction of electric trains between London and Luton Airport Parkway, Luton, Wellingborough, Corby, Bedford and Kettering.

There will also be an investment of £20 million at all stations with specific improvements made at St Pancras including new waiting areas for all EMR customers.

Alberto Martin, chief executive of London Luton Airport (LLA), 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 £225m Direct Air-Rail Transit 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 welcomed by all passengers who travel to us by rail.”

Dominic Booth, Managing Director of Abellio UK, said: “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.”

Rail Minister, Chris Heaton-Harris, said: “Abellio’s exciting plans for East Midlands Railway will make a real difference to passengers, delivering state-of-the-art trains with more seats, station improvements and trialling hydrogen fuel cell technology to ensure that East Midlands Railway becomes one of the most environmentally-friendly in the UK.

“This investment will also lead to more punctual journeys for passengers and play a major role in building a railway that’s fit for the future.”

Other improvements include more cycle and car parking will be provided and smart ticketing will be rolled out by 2020.

Julian Edwards, Managing Director of East Midlands Railway, said: “Today is a new era for rail services on East Midlands Railway.

“We have begun to deliver on our promises with improved passenger compensation and a Price Promise for all passengers.

“We are investing in new and better trains, improved stations and more services, including between London and key destinations like London Luton Airport and Corby.

“Our customers will also notice significant improvements at St Pancras station when they arrive at and depart from the station.”