Rachel Hopkins, MP for Luton South, secured a Parliamentary debate on Luton Station this week. It was an opportunity to directly challenge the Transport Secretary, Huw Merriman.
Luton residents will need no reminder about the problem. Despite 3.5 million journeys via the station in 2019-2020, it is decrepit and out-dated, and inaccessible to the disabled and elderly. The leaking roof is a well known water hazard for disembarking commuters. It’s not fit for purpose, and a town of Luton’s size deserves better.
There are several reasons why Luton Station needs a complete redevelopment. Accessibility is the most urgent. Development is another, as Hopkins said in her remarks to Parliament. “A train station is a gateway to a town.” It creates a first impression. “Improving the station as that gateway to our town centre would increase the attractiveness of Luton to residents and visitors, which is key to creating jobs, attracting investment and encouraging businesses to come to Luton.”
Hopkins also made the climate connection: “Improving Luton’s rail offer also aligns with the UK’s wider aim of reaching net zero. A positive rail passenger experience is vital to encouraging the shift from cars to rail. It is clear that the current experience of Luton residents is not encouraging them to make that shift.” A better station would encourage more sustainable travel, including for the fans travelling in support of a rising Luton Town FC.
Hopkins challenged the Minister to detail when the works on a new lift would happen, and she also invited him to visit Luton to see the station for himself. He agreed to a visit, and pledged to work with Luton’s two MPs and partners for a solution.
Followers of the Luton station saga will know better than to hold their breath. But it’s good to see high level discussion of the problem, and we will keep you up to date on any important news, or campaigns you can join to improve the station.