London Luton Airport (LLA) has welcomed the news that East Midlands Railway (EMR) is to introduce a new half hourly non-stop service between London St Pancras and Luton Airport Parkway.

The new service will be introduced as part of the May timetable change and is the first significant step towards a separately-branded ‘Luton Airport Express’ service. The service will operate using electric trains and run every 30 minutes between 06:00 and 22:00 daily, with additional late night and early morning services to serve departures from the airport.

The new service means passengers will be able to reach the airport in around 30 minutes from central London, making the airport one of the most accessible from the capital. The timetable change also sees the introduction of a half-hourly service from Corby and other stations in the East Midlands, allowing passengers to travel from these towns to the airport in under an hour.

LLA has long campaigned for an express rail service, supported by a range of national and local businesses including easyJet, the CBI, and Federation of Small Businesses, who all recognise the benefits that improved links bring to the local community and the national economy. An express rail link will also bring environmental benefits, including a reduction of up to 70,000 car journeys a year.

The additional connectivity will be significantly enhanced by the construction of the Direct Air-Rail Transit (DART) service, which is nearing completion. The £225m investment sees the creation of a fixed link between the airport and the station, replacing the current bus service.

Commenting on the proposals, Alberto Martin, CEO of LLA said: “With ongoing travel restrictions, there are far fewer passengers using the airport than there normally would be. However, we need to take the opportunity to prepare for a return to air travel, and these changes do just that. It will be even easier for passengers to reach the airport as soon as it is safe to do so again, and I look forward to welcoming them back.”

Also commenting, Will Rogers, Managing Director at East Midlands Railway, said: “Overall, our May 2021 timetable will provide more seats, quicker journeys and a simpler and more resilient timetable for passengers across the East Midlands and along the Midland Main Line. A key part of this enhancement is our step change in service for Luton Airport and we look forward to continuing to work closely with the airport to further develop the service.”