Luton Airport has released a video showing a “drivers eye” view of the driverless Luton DART (Direct Air-Rail Transit), which will link the nearby railway station and the airport for the first time.

At the moment, the link between the airport and the nearest railway station, Luton Airport Parkway is by a shuttle bus, but a new “automated guided people mover” with cable hauled trains will link them next year.

When it opens, journey times will be cut to just 4 minutes.

The latest video from Luton Airport shows the cable-hauled railway in testing mode, which is due to last around six months, and they will be progressively increasing the speed of the line over the next few months.

Scheduled to open next year, it will enable rail journeys between the airport and St Pancras International of 30 minutes.

The main contractors for the project are Volker Fitzpatrick-Kier (VFK) and Austria based Doppelmayr Cable Car. Meanwhile, Network Rail handled the construction of the new overbridge, escalators and canopies at Luton Airport Parkway station.


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  1. K Lynch says:

    I’m intrigued at to why they opted for a cable hauled system as opposed to conventional electric motor powered units. Anyone have any insight on that

    • Phil says:

      I don’t KNOW the reason behind the choice, bit I know the area and there is a considerable incline from the train station to the airport, so I wonder whether it’s an efficiency thing where perhaps the train heading “downhill” might assist in hauling the cable pulling the uphill train.
      Just a guess, but seems plausible to me.

    • George says:

      Cable hauled systems are very common in this type of “point to point” driverless system. The NEC people mover in Birmingham (which replaced the Maglev) is cable hauled as are many other airport shuttles. Las Vegas has a similar system linking the Luxor and Mandalay Bay Hotels.

    • simon says:

      I don’t think it’s a funicular, the two tracks are independent of each other. There could be regenerative breaking on the way down. But yes it’s a steep route that would have used a lot of power for traction motors so I guess the calculations show this is the most power efficient way.

  2. David Allerton says:

    Could it be that, being a simple point to point route, there is an efficiency gain in having the power unit separate and immobile, therefore no energy required to haul the motor itself? Probably only works over a short distance until the weight of the cables and associated friction cancels the gain.

  3. John says:

    More investment in the Tory voting south were you had a perfectly good bus connection.
    Try moving from Glasgow Airport to the city centre or Edinburgh or West Midlands Airport. ITS ALL ADDING TO THE MISS BALANCE OF RESOURCES IN THE UK.

    • ianVisits says:

      The rail link is being paid for by Luton Airport – and there’s nothing stopping the other airports from paying for their own transport upgrades if they want to.

      This is nothing to do with politics, but if you want to play silly politics, then check your facts first – Luton is Labour controlled.

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