Updated: Feb 26, 2021
Trains under construction ((c) London Luton Airport)
Luton Airport is currently building a new light rail link, and they’ve released a flythrough of the construction so far (See it on our website).
At the moment, the link between the airport and the nearest railway station, Luton Airport Parkway is by a shuttle bus, but a new rail link with a novel power system will link the two next year. Journey times will be cut to just 4 minutes.
The trains will be pulled along by a cable system, where the cable runs along the tracks and is kept constantly rotating, while the train carriages grab and release the cable to move and stop as needed.
Although there have been cable car railways in the past in the UK, the Luton Airport site will be the second modern application, after Birmingham Airport.
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 will be 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.
The light-rail’s cable-hauled propulsion system is already in place, and the carriages are now being lifted on to 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 main contractors for the project are Volker Fitzpatrick-Kier (VFK) and Austria based Doppelmayr Cable Car. Meanwhile, Network Rail continues to work on the construction of the new overbridge, escalators and canopies at Luton Airport Parkway station. Scheduled to open during 2022, ongoing restrictions permitting, it will enable rail journeys between the airport and St Pancras International of just 30 minutes.