Project Description

Working on behalf of the UK’s Department of Transport, LECS UK was appointed to the project to advise on stage 1 and stage 2 authorisation under the Cableways Installations Regulations.

As leading independent engineering consultants that specialise in all areas of vertical transportation, to include cableways, escalators, funiculars and lfts,  LECS UK has been involved in numerous key infrastructure developments throughout the UK and internationally.

Straight off the back of wrapping up the reopening of the Cairngorm Mountain Railway the team has now also completed its work on the Luton DART infrastructure project.

Construction on the Luton DART started in April 2018, and it was announced that the system would be a Cable Liner, manufactured by the Austrian transit manufacturer, Doppelmayr Cable Car (DCC), that also has a contract to operate the system for the first five years. The vehicles were built by the Austrian cabin manufacturer Carvatech.

Eur ing Dave Cooper CEO of LECS UK said:  “These are very complex systems so the primary focus is safety.

“The aim of the Cableways Installations Regulations is to govern the safe design and operation of cableway installations. The directive covers funicular railways, cliff lifts, cable cars, gondolas, chair lifts and drag lifts as well as subsystems and safety components. Any cableway built or modified after 1986 must comply.”

The DART (Direct Air-Rail Transit) is a cable-drawn, driverless railway running on a 1.4-mile (2.2km) line connecting Luton Airport Parkway station to the airport terminal in just over three minutes, 24 hours a day. The DART route includes a 350m (1,148 ft) long viaduct, a bridge over a dual carriageway and a new underground station at the airport. In total, the 2.2 km DART combines seven different types of structure and an autonomous light rail system.

Cooper said: “We have been involved in the Luton Dart project, on behalf of the UK’s department of transport since April 2018. Our work involved two separate authorisation stages.

“Firstly, the main contractor applies to the Authorisation body, which grants authorisation when it is satisfied the system will be safe, complies with essential requirements of the Directive and the competence of those involved. They also consider engineering and environmental factors. Secondly, the operator must apply to the Authorisation body that grant authorisation when satisfied the system has been installed correctly and the system for monitoring safety is adequate.”

There are two phases in relation to installations:

STAGE 1: Authorisation of work for construction or modification of an installation. The main contractor must apply to the Authorisation Body. Authorisation is granted once it has been established that the proposed system will be safe, taking into account the environmental and engineering factors at the site, compliance with the essential requirements of the Directive for the components and subsystems and the competence of those involved in the construction.

STAGE 2: Authorisation of putting into service a cableway installation. The operator/intended operator must apply to the Authorisation Body. This authorisation is granted once it has been demonstrated to the satisfaction of the Authorising Body that the installation has been undertaken correctly and that the system of monitoring the operating safety of the installation throughout its service life is adequate.

Only once both stages of authorisation have been completed the system can legally be put into service.

Starting at the purpose-built Luton Parkway station the Dart runs on a 350m long viaduct, before transitioning to a 72m long, 1,000t steel truss bridge with composite deck that runs over a live dual carriageway. The Dart then weaves its way past the airport’s landing lights, through a 600m long cut and fill section before entering a 500m long concrete base trough section. It then heads underground into a 350m cut and cover tunnel, which dips beneath the airport’s taxiway and into a new Central Terminal station, 20m beneath the airport’s current drop-off area. This facilitates a 30-minute transfer from London St Pancras station to Luton Airport terminal.

The King was given a special trip on the DART during a visit in December with the line due to carry its first passengers in April 2023.

Other similar  projects that LECS UK has consulted on include: London’s (only) Cable Car, and Hastings East Hill Funicular