DART — Another Record for the “Game Changer” Project

In an article in the Times newspaper of 24th February, we read about an unenviable record that the DART rail link will achieve.  When the DART takes its first passenger, it will become the United Kingdom’s most expensive line for passengers. 

The one-way fare will be £4.90 to cover the 1.3 mile route, and there will not be any discounted return fares available, which will make a round trip cost of £9.80.      

The DART takes the “most expensive” title away from the Heathrow Express, which retails online tickets for £25 for the 16.5 mile trip, therefore £1.50 per mile.

A spokesperson for Luton Borough Council told the newspaper’s Transport Correspondent that this comparison did not paint a full picture as it did not include the costs when added to the mainline rail fare to Central London. Apparently, the DART fare had been based on independent assessment/sound rationale and reflected the time saving, convenience and quality when compared to the current operation.

The article then references the two year overrun, and the increase in costs from £225 Million to £300 Million.

The article did not however mention the following key facts:-

  1. The DART has never had a publicly accessible business plan.
  2. The DART has been built with public money.
  3. That by Luton Rising’s own admission, there will be a minimum £180 million write down on the project over its expected forty year lifetime.
  4. That it replaces a bus operation which is free to Luton Borough Council/Luton Rising, and which has been perfectly adequate for the airport’s growth to 18 million passengers per annum.

We would like to put on record our thanks to The Times and their Correspondent for being one of the few national media outlets to inform the public of this project.  We will be in correspondence with them to provide information on our comments above, in the hope it will give them an appetite to further investigate the murky world of Luton Borough Council, DART and Luton Rising.

Meanwhile, we can now inform you of the operational start date for this project, which – as we said earlier – is already two years late.

It has been announced that the DART rail link will open for passenger use from the 10th March 2023. This will be a restricted service of four hours per day alongside the current bus operation. After about three weeks, Luton Rising (the Council’s airport company), hopes it will then go fully into operation. 

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