THE Luton Airport DART train will finally open this year, making life easier for passengers, but at a big cost.
Currently, passengers arriving at the airport by train have to disembark 1.5 miles away at Luton Airport Parkway station.
They must then pay for an eight-minute shuttle bus to complete the remainder of the journey to Luton airport.
But the DART (Direct Air Rail Transit) train will soon provide an easier connection from the station to the terminal.
The train was due to open in May 2021, but that date got pushed back.
Now, the train is scheduled to start shuttling passengers to and from the airport from March 10.
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However, its initial opening has been described as a "soft opening," meaning it will only initially operate for four hours each day.
This phase is expected to last until the end of the month,when it will become fully operational.
Passengers will have to pay a hefty fee for the convenience of using the train.
Luton Rising, the council body that oversees the airport, have said one-way fares for the 1.3-mile route would be £4.90, with no discount for return trips.
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At £3.70 per mile, the line overtakes the Heathrow Express as the most expensive railway in Britain.
A single ticket on the Heathrow Express, bought online, is £25 equating to £1.50 a mile over the 16.5-mile route.
The current bus connection at Luton costs £2.50 each way and takes about eight minutes. The train will take four minutes.
The council has argued that the line is good value for money for passengers and that comparing fares by per mile does not paint the full picture.
The spokesperson pointed out that a passenger could get from central London to the airport for about £10 using an advanced ticket on East Midlands Railway from St Pancras and the DART.
They said: "The fare is based on independent assessment and sound rationale, reflecting the value of time saved and convenience and the quality of what we are providing compared to what went before.
The DART will be free to passengers with a concessionary bus pass, such as pensioners, people with a disability or acting as companion travellers.
Journeys from London St Pancras to the airport terminal will be cut to between 32 minutes and 40 minutes, depending which service passengers change from.
The twice-hourly non-stop East Midlands Railway (EMR) service to Luton Parkway is the quicker option, while the stopping Thameslink service will take a little longer.
Passengers remain unconvinced, however.
One person wrote on Twitter: "£9.80 for a return ticket on the new Luton DART train. I really thought they would make it lower than the car drop off fee."
A second added: "Nice and expensive then!"
The train isn't the only big change coming to Luton airport that is expected to passengers' lives easier.
Tech company Leidos is set to install 12 advanced CT bag scanners at its security gates this year.
Work on the installation has already begun and the scanners are expected to be in action before the end of 2023.
The machines will allow passengers to take more liquid in their hand luggage, with the 100ml rule set to be scrapped.
Passengers will be able to carry up to two litres of liquids in their bags, without the need to remove them from their bags.
Laptops and electronic devices are also permitted to stay in hand luggage during the screening process, making passing through security much simpler.
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Despite the removal of the large liquids ban, other hand luggage restrictions will remain in place, including a ban on sharp objects.
It's not just drinks that are banned either, there are also restrictions on certain food items at security.
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