London Luton Airport and Abellio announce launch of express rail service

London Luton Airport (LLA) has announced a new partnership agreement with Abellio, which will operate the East Midlands Railway for the next eight years.

The partnership will bring a package of more than £600 million investment in improvements to rail services across the East Midlands and between Bedford, Corby, Wellingborough, Kettering, Luton Airport Parkway and London St Pancras.

East Midlands Railway (EMR) will oversee the delivery of improvements, improve rail connections and drive economic growth including more regular services between London St Pancras station and Luton Airport.

The new 'Luton Airport Express' style-service operated by an all-electric fleet of trains will also serve Luton, Corby, Kettering, Wellingborough and Bedford.

It will come into service by December 2020 and will feature fast trains between St Pancras and Luton Airport Parkway every 30 minutes.

Some of the changes to be brought in by EMR include replacement of the entire intercity train fleet including 165 new intercity bi-mode carriages (33 trains) that will link cities in the North and East Midlands to London St Pancras. Electric trains between London and Luton Airport Parkway, Luton, Wellingborough, Corby, Bedford and Kettering will be introduced. Also, an investment of £20 million at all stations with specific improvements made at St Pancras, such as new waiting areas for all EMR customers, including additional seating and better lounge areas is planned.

Alberto Martin, chief executive of the airport, said: "We welcome the arrival of EMR and the commitment to provide an express-style service to the airport every half an hour from December 2020. Along with the arrival of the £225m Direct Air-Rail Transit service in 2021, linking Luton Airport Parkway station directly with the airport terminal, we will see a step change in rail connectivity between London and its fastest-growing airport.

"Once the developments are completed, passengers will be able to reach the airport terminal in a little under half an hour from central London. This transformation of service with its own sub-brand, website, easier ticketing and dedicated platform at St Pancras will be welcomed by all passengers who travel to us by rail"

Dominic Booth, managing director of Abellio UK, said: "Abellio is delighted to have been entrusted to operate East Midlands Railway and we've already started on our £600 million investment package to transform rail services from towns like Corby, Bedford and also Luton Airport into London St Pancras station."

Rail minister Chris Heaton-Harris commented: "Abellio's exciting plans for East Midlands Railway will make a real difference to passengers, delivering state-of-the-art trains with more seats, station improvements and trialling hydrogen fuel cell technology to ensure that East Midlands Railway becomes one of the most environmentally-friendly in the UK."

"This investment will also lead to more punctual journeys for passengers and play a major role in building a railway that's fit for the future."

Julian Edwards, managing director of East Midlands Railway, said: "Today is a new era for rail services on East Midlands Railway. We have begun to deliver on our promises with improved passenger compensation and a Price Promise for all passengers. We are investing in new and better trains, improved stations and more services, including between London and key destinations like London Luton Airport and Corby. Our customers will also notice significant improvements at St Pancras station when they arrive at and depart from the station."

Other improvements include more cycle and car parking and smart ticketing.

A short film about the transformation to rail services that EMR will bring can be viewed at www.abellio.com/uk/media/new0073

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