Opening of Luton’s new direct rail line delayed AGAIN as costs balloon to £300m
A new railway to Luton airport will not open before Easter following a two-year delay.
The direct air-transit link (Dart) will connect the Bedfordshire hub to Luton Parkway station, significantly cutting the time it takes to get to the airport from London.
The Dart’s opening was pushed back to last October after its original 2021 starting date was missed.
But works on the 1.4-mile rail have been further delayed by the pandemic as well as by technology upgrades and a row with Network Rail over revenue sharing.
The delays have also cost the borough of Luton, which owns the infrastructure, an additional 33 per cent.
Originally estimated at £225m, the Dart’s price has soared to £300m, the Times first reported.
This will in turn have a £184m impact on the council’s finances.
Nevertheless Luton Rising, the council body that is in charge of the project, told the outlet the £184m extra costs for the airport were a “non-cash, technical accounting issue.”
Chief executive Graham Olver added that the delays have been caused by unforeseen issues with the project’s IT infrastructure.
“These are very complex systems,” he said. “Our primary focus is safety and we have taken time to make sure we get the customer experience right.”
Luton Rising said that the Dart will help the airport expand its long-term passenger capacity from the current 18 million to 32 million annually.
This will create an additional 12,000 jobs whilst bringing an extra £1.6bn in economic activity, bolstering Luton’s status as London’s fourth airport.
The council was approached for comment.