Image: Phillip Capper Image: Phillip Capper

London Luton Airport (LLA) has recorded a 18.7% increase in passenger numbers in October compared to the same period last year, with over 1.3 million passengers choosing to travel through the airport last month alone, reinforcing the airports call on government to improve rail access to Luton Airport Parkway station.

LLA is seeking the introduction of four fast trains per hour from central London to Luton Airport Parkway (LAP) as part of the upcoming East Midlands rail refranchising process.

LLA’s call has received strong support from the business and political community; the proposals have been endorsed by the CBI, FSB and easyJet, as well as the Transport Select Committee Chair Louise Ellman MP and Andy McDonald MP, Shadow Secretary of State for Transport.

Alongside Luton Borough Council’s planned £200 million light rail link, between Luton Airport Parkway station and the terminal, the additional fast train services will make LLA one of the best-connected London airports with journey times of less than 30 minutes from central London.

Independent economic analysis reveals that increasing the number of hourly fast trains to LAP from one to four - just through timetable change - could almost double the number of passengers travelling by train to LLA.

This would reduce traffic congestion by 70,000 journeys and save 500 tonnes of CO2 in the first year alone. Rail revenue could be increased by up to £110 million at no cost to the rail operator or the Department for Transport.

It will take at least a decade for the proposed new runway at Heathrow, announced by the government last month, to enter operational service. However, airport capacity in the south east needs to be increased in the short term to meet existing demand, says the LLA.

The airport is currently investing in a £110m transformation project which will grow annual capacity by 50% to 18 million passengers per year by 2020. The Transport Select Committee has identified rail links as a major limiting factor on future capacity growth.

Nick Barton, CEO of LLA, said: “As the fastest-growing major London airport, it is absurd that LLA is the only one with no Express-style service. Each month more and more passengers are choosing to fly from LLA which is why we are currently undertaking this ambitious transformation project to increase our annual capacity.

“Improved connectivity will not only make the journey to and from LLA as simple and efficient as possible for our passengers but also help address capacity constraints across the south east in the short-medium term.”