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Kent to get direct trains to Luton Airport Parkway station from May

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The new and much delayed changes to the Thameslink rail network in London are about to begin in earnest.   This official website outlines what will be happening and when.

One lesser known change is that, from May, there will be a direct train service from parts of Kent to Luton Airport Parkway.

Running every 30 minutes, seven days per week, the service will run from Rainham to Luton town centre.

The Kent and outer London stations to be served are:

Rainham, Gillingham, Chatham, Rochester, Strood, Higham, Gravesend, Northfleet, Swanscombe, Greenhithe, Stone Crossing, Dartford, Slade Green, Abbey Wood, Plumstead, Woolwich Arsenal, Charlton, Westcombe Park, Maze Hill, Greenwich, Deptford and then on to London Bridge and through to Luton

Comments (56)

  • Paul says:

    Just to pick up additional Pedantry Points (I’m going for lifetime gold): Luton is a town not a city.

    • Rob says:

      I did ponder that one at the time 🙂

    • Gavin says:

      Yes, it does go to *Luton* (city/town/conurbation centre) but also perhaps more relevantly for this article, *Luton Airport Parkway* is the previous stop.

      From there a short bus journey (from 2020 it’ll be a direct light rail link) will take you to the terminal.

      Be sure to select Luton Airport (LUA) as your departure station to get your Shuttle Bus transfer fare included. If your ticket is to Luton Airport Parkway (LTN) they’ll sting you for a cash fare.

      • The_real_a says:

        For manchester it is often cheapet NOT to add the connection to the airport and pay the £3.xx on the day price. Have no idea if that same is true for Luton but worth checking.

        • Lady London says:

          Defo ensuring to select Luton Airport and NOT Luton Parkway to start or end your train journey if you have a railcars so far as I can tell.

          B***** cheeky of Luton Council, who owns the airport, that they started charging for the bus from Luton Parkway in the past couple of years or so. There was talk of why was the rail line stopped at Luton Parkway in the first place rather than running the extra mile and a half or whatever short distance it is, to the airport.

        • RussellH says:

          FWIW, that is not my experience travelling to MAN (airport), from Penrith or Carnforth usually,

          May well be the case travelling from, say, Leeds or York???

        • The_real_a says:

          RusselH – interesting. yes im coming from the east. Somtimes £20 cheaper NOT to add it as some super-saver tickets seem not available with the connection.

        • Riku says:

          “There was talk of why was the rail line stopped at Luton Parkway in the first place”

          The airport parkway station was just a station added to the existing bedford – london line in 1999. If they had wanted to have the train station at the airport itself it would have cost much more to build a new rail line there rather than add a station to the existing line a mile from the airport. The railway line was built in 1868 and the airport did not exist then (neither did airplanes).

        • Lady London says:

          Yes. Funds apparently allowed the station but Luton wasn’t paying for the line extension. Presumably if they’re building the rail line through to the airport for opening in 2020 (which I had missed seeing) funds have now been made available

        • Jamie says:

          Manchester – did you mean Birmingham?

        • Aeronaut says:

          @Lady London
          “B***** cheeky of Luton Council, who owns the airport, that they started charging for the bus from Luton Parkway in the past couple of years or so.”

          The charge for the shuttle bus has existed since 2008, though as others have said if you get a rail ticket to the destination of ‘Luton Airport’ itself (rather than ‘Luton Airport Parkway’) you are covered for the shuttle bus.

          Also the shuttle bus has been run by the train company responsible for the Thameslink service for years (it is a franchise obligation). I can’t speak as to the logic of why responsibility for the shuttle bus passed from the airport to the railway.

    • John says:

      Technically the first two stations are Rainham (Kent) and Gillingham (Kent).

  • insider says:

    it would be useful to add the times of the journey from Rainham to Luton

  • Baboons says:

    Anyone thinking of getting their passport do e now but worried about dekays, I applied for my son’s – his first adult one – online on Tuesday and posted his old passport off. They marked as received in Thursday morning, approved Thursday night and printed Friday night. Should have it back by Tuesday latest. Fsstest turnaround I’ve ever had.

  • Andrew (@andrewseftel) says:

    There are also about half a dozen direct services from Sevenoaks on weekdays. I don’t know whether they are surviving under the new timetable in May though.

  • Tyra says:

    If I renew my passport now, will I have to get another one next year when we leave the EU?

  • Chris says:

    Re: Passport fees. Can one apply and pay online now at the lower fee and submit in a few weeks time when Easter travel is completed?

    • Anna says:

      I think this might be possible, they don’t start to process the new passport application until they receive the old passport but I’m not aware if they specify how long you have to get it to them.

      • Lady London says:

        Just in case no one else mentioned it, if you have up to 9 months left on your current passport you should apply now as up to that much time can be added from the old passport on top of the 10year passport time when it is issued.

    • Yuff says:


    • EwanG says:

      Yes not a problem. If you renew online you have to send the paperwork and old passport in within 90 days.
      So you can start it now to lock into current price, travel over Easter with current passport and then complete your renewal!

  • Nick_C says:

    Unfortunately the seating on the new Class 700 Thameslink trains is bloody uncomfortable. The seats are hard and narrow. The leg room is terrible. There are no armrests. There are no power points or USB points in standard class. No WiFi. And hardly any space for luggage.

    I was excited about having a direct train from my local station (on the ECML) to Gatwick until I actually sat on one. 100 minutes on one to get to Gatwick? No thanks! I’d rather drive. I pity people who have to sit on these trains every day.

    • Andrew says:

      I agree that they’re incredibly uncomfortable but they do have wifi

      • Lady London says:

        How train carriages are ever built or refurbished without USB points and ideally charging plug points being added -including a few extra for standees – is beyond me. Ditto multimillion projects that rebuild train stations or underground stations that havent included lifts for people with luggage, pushchairs or people with mobility difficulties. Pretty new tiling in stations and horrible thin scratchy seat surfaces yes, but not things people travelling really need like lifts/escalators and USB points.

        • Billy says:

          ScotRail has 25-year-old Class 158 trains from Wick to Inverness.
          Free Wifi and powerpoints/USB sockets available throughout the train.
          However, according to industry press, it is the DfT who are specifying what is included on trains. Yay for the privatised, innovative railway!!!

    • Leo says:

      +1 The legroom really ****** me off.

  • ankomonkey says:

    OT: Looking to fly UK-Egypt in Easter 2019. Cash fares in general seem disproportionately high for the distance/flight time. Does anyone have any advice for getting economy fares around the £200 mark, or am I being unrealistic? I did achieve this 11 years ago, but the carriers used have all gone bust, possibly due to offering flights to Egypt too cheaply 😉

    • Lady London says:

      You could take a look at TK. Also LX has done good deals involving IST in the past. Although perhaps not quite as good as only £200. Especially since currently UK Pound is worth much less than it was. So often airline prices translate into needing a higher price in UK Pounds, than a year or two ago.

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