The delayed shuttle railway linking London Luton Airport to the nearby railway station is to partially open on 10th March 2023, the company has announced.

Source – Wikipedia

The Luton DART is a new automated people mover connecting the airport terminal and the mainline railway at Luton Airport Parkway in just over three minutes.

Although seriously delayed and over budget, they have now confirmed that it will open to passengers on Friday 10th March. It will initially be open for about four hours a day, with the service increasing over the next few weeks, to be fully open by the end of March.

They’re also looking for volunteers to help in trial situations including fire evacuation, station evacuation and a series of customer service scenarios.

(c) Luton DART

It will also be free to use during the initial phase, along with the free shuttle bus that it will eventually replace. When the service is fully open though, passengers will need to pay to use the shuttle between Luton Airport and Luton Airport Station. However, people won’t need to buy a separate ticket, as the DART transfer is included in any rail ticket where customers choose Luton Airport as the start or end point of the journey.

The cost of a single journey has been put at £4.90, making it, per mile, one of the more expensive railway services in the UK.

Passengers holding a concessionary bus pass, such as pensioners, people with a disability or acting as companion travellers, will be entitled to free travel on the Luton DART. Residents of Luton will also be able to apply in advance for half-priced travel.

The four-carriage, 170-capacity DART will replace the existing bus transfer service, providing step-free, indoor transfers between station and airport in less than half the time and at more than twice the frequency.

The journey from London St Pancras International to London Luton Airport terminal will take around 32 minutes on the Luton Airport Express, connected by East Midlands Railway (twice-hourly, non-stop service), and from around 40 minutes on Thameslink’s current services.


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  1. alistair twin says:

    note that the current bus isn’t free, it’s just included in the train ticket… on any one trip there are always LOTs of people who dont realise and have bought a ticket to Luton Parkway station, then have to stump up for the shuttle. It’s not illogical as that’s the station you are travelling to but slows the whole thing down.

    Hope the train is good, the increase in frequency will make a big difference, the travel time isnt so bad at the moment.

    Another nail in the coffin for stansted which has been loosing ground left right and centre and seems to actively dislike their customers.

    • Jack says:

      Stansted has trains that actually stop underneath the terminal, so there is that…

    • Alistair Twin says:


      yep, though 2 trains per hour and 50m “express” for £20

      vs about 5 tph at luton , 33m service and £16 (cheaper with a network railcard as well)

      There’s not much in it, whereas Stansted used to be pretty good.

      My main point was that stansted have been spending money making the experience worse and worse, wheras Luton seem to be investing better to make the airport less awful, w

  2. Frankie Roberto says:

    Are they actually going to check tickets? That’d slow the whole thing down…

    Why not just make it free?

    • Brian Butterworth says:

      I think it’s got ticket gates like the railway station, so no “they” are involved.

  3. Phil Richards says:

    For rail travellers coming in either direction, this is more more expensive and probably not much more convenient than existing arrangements with the shuttle bus. Alternative transport by bus from Central London is slow. Obviously other locations may have better bus links than using the train.

  4. Andrew says:

    The bus pass for disabled people is it only for people from Luton as I have one from West Yorkshire and has a + 1 on it ?

  5. MilesT says:

    I see from the link to the evacuation trial volunteering page that they are not making the childish error of using a group of children from a local school in the trials. Min age 13.

    One empty suitcase required.

  6. Chris Rogers says:

    Not mentioned is that this is in fact a cable-hauled vehicle, like the original mainline to Euston.

  7. Chris Page says:

    I’ve just checked train prices from St Pancras for the morning of Monday 13th March. As an aside, National Rail Enquiries still lists a bus service between the Parkway and the airport.

    If I use my Senior Railcard for the St Pancras to Parkway leg at 11:45 it’s £2.10. Then I could utilise my Freedom Pass for the DART and get the ride for free.

    Alternatively, a full-price single from St Pancras to the airport is… £19.50.

    Oh, the joys of being an old git!

  8. Chris says:

    Why does concessionary travel on DART require prior registration plus individual downloads of tickets for each journey, thus excluding all those otherwise eligible who do not have a smartphone or IT access? Was this even considered, I wonder.

  9. JC says:

    For anyone on a budget we as a family (2 adults 2 kids) travelled from Luton airport parkway to Luton airport for £1.90 per adult, £1.30 per child. You can pay contactless and I think by cash. The bus you’ll need is the ‘A’ route bus towards the airport, which goes from the ‘hampton by hilton’ stop north of the station (kimpton Rd) opposite the Hampton Hilton otherside of road. They are 24 hrs. come between 5 and 10mins or so and take less than 10min to get to the airport.

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