Luton Airport is preparing to enter the 21st century with a new train station that could help the Bedfordshire terminal challenge the likes of Gatwick and Heathrow.Passengers arriving at London Luton by rail today must alight some two miles from the actual doors of the building and wait to catch a shuttle bus that takes 10 minutes (or far longer during rush hour). But come 2020 the irritating transfer will be no more as Luton Borough Council has approved a 1.4-mile rail link and new station on the doorstep of the terminal. It is hoped journey times from London proper will be down from as long as an hour to less than 30 minutes. “It’s an exciting development which will enhance the passenger experience at Luton,” said Councillor Dave Taylor, chair of planning at Luton Council.The £200 million investment will be money well spent if the new station helps Luton compete with its rival London airports. Luton is currently the fifth busiest airport in the UK in terms of passengers, handling 14.6 million a year, lagging behind most other London terminals, as well as Manchester. However, Luton showed the highest rate of growth from 2015 to 2016, at 19.4 per cent. Renderings of the new central station square at LutonCredit:Luton Airport The UK’s busiest airports by passengersLondon Heathrow – 75.7mLondon Gatwick – 43.1mManchester – 25.6London Stansted – 24.3mLondon Luton – 14.6mEdinburgh – 12.3mBirmingham – 11.6mGlasgow – 9.3mBristol – 7.6mBelfast Int – 5.1m The new rail infrastructure is a part of a major, broader overhaul of the airport’s terminal layout and road access, currently affording arrivals to the airport a rather circuitous approach.Coupled with this development, once complete, Luton will hope the continued growth of some of the low-cost airlines based there, including EasyJet and Ryanair, will boost its traffic.This week another budget carrier, Wizz Air, announced a new base at Luton, launching three new services to Tel Aviv, Pristina in Kosovo and Kutaisi in Georgia, bringing its total number of routes from the airport to 42. The airport will presumably be setting its sights on catching up with its closest competitor, Stansted, currently welcoming 10 million more passengers a year, but with a slower rate of growth (eight per cent). Luton predicts its passengers figure will rise to 18 million by 2020. Heathrow, the UK’s busiest airport, saw 75.7 million passengers last year.