It was no surprise that the start of October saw yet another announcement by Luton Rising (LR), of another delay into commercial service of their “game changing” DART link between Luton Airport Parkway station and the central terminal area at Luton Airport.
Due to enter revenue service in spring 2021, it will now be at least two years overdue. https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-england-beds-bucks-herts-40370475
As we recently reported, the actual act of paying for itself is impossible, as the project will never recover the costs of its construction and operation in its lifetime. LR accounts for 2020/21 tell how only circa £77 million will be recovered, which leaves an impairment, or deficit, of circa £184 million. This figure is of course based on the costs when on schedule. With this latest overrun, the costs of operating the system in test mode with the soaring electricity rates, and no doubt other costs carefully hidden by LR, that impairment will only grow not shrink.
Mr Olver, the very handsomely remunerated CEO of LR stated the reasons are: –
“We had hoped for announcement of the opening of the Luton DART in 2022, and we will do so as soon as we are assured passengers will get the world-class service they deserve.
Testing of the system is significantly advanced but there remain several important tasks that we are working to complete with our partners. These relate mostly to complexities and alignment of the system’s revenue and ticketing arrangements. This will also allow us more time to complete all the regulatory, operational and health and safety testing.”
What exactly have you and your hordes of LR staff actually been doing over the past four years Mr Olver?
Surely working out how people could pay to use the thing would have been Number 1 on your to-do list?
Apparently, DART will also “put our town and airport firmly on the map for all the right reasons”, and it is “vital investment which signals our commitment to the ongoing success of the airport for the benefit of our passengers, airlines and the people of Luton”
“Everything we do is aimed not only at supporting economic and employment growth, but also generating positive outcomes for the community, and acting in an environmentally responsible way.”
Mr Olver then dropped another bombshell with his usual “everything will be fine” tone.
Not living in Luton and therefore not at the pointed end of any of the service cuts, everything will be fine for him. He announced that to get the residents of Luton their money back, the one-way fare on DART would be an eye watering £4.90, with no return trip discount fares available. At least Mr Olver has finally admitted that this lame duck has been built with residents’ cash. This crucial point has always been sidestepped by LBC/LR in the past as being completely untrue. The current bus system has a single trip at £2.40, and an open return of £3.80. With a journey time only an estimated two minutes longer than DART, and with no financial cost to LBC/LR.
Those passengers will now see a 104% rise on a single trip, 158% on a return. Which has to beg the question, when those currently using the perfectly adequate service were canvassed about whether they would like a shiny new toy train instead, were they told just how much extra they would be paying for it?
We believe the answer would be no they would not, as we also find it hard to believe any such canvassing would have actually happened.
LBC/LR has history for assuming what people want, without asking them.
In our opinion, two sham consultations on airport expansion to 32 million passengers bear witness to this, as nowhere on any feedback forms could you just tick, no expansion. LR then twisted all anti expansion comments to being in favour somehow.
We could now present a breakdown of how many passengers would be required for the total investment/operating costs to be recouped, but there is no point, as we know DART will never pay for itself.
DART- Direct Air-Rail Transit
DART- Draining Amenities Ruining Town
We have always known which acronym is correct for DART, Mr Olver has just confirmed it.
Stop Luton Airport Expansion