A £200 million mass passenger transit system linking Luton airport with the existing rail link to London has been unveiled.

The aim is to provide a direct journey time between London St Pancras and the airport terminal of under 30 minutes via Luton Airport Parkway station.

The fully-automated, 24-hour light rail people mover could be operational on a 2.2km route by 2020, according to new plans announced by the airport’s owner, London Luton Airport Limited.

The organisation’s chairman, Andy Malcolm, said: “I am delighted to confirm that the board has committed to start the procurement process to provide fast, easy access between Luton Airport Parkway and the airport terminal.

“Luton is the fastest growing airport in the UK and enjoys excellent road links to London and the North while Luton Airport Parkway also gives excellent rail connectivity to the capital and the Midlands.

“The scheme we are announcing today will provide a seamless five-minute transfer time between Parkway station and the airport terminal.

“A total journey time of less than 30 minutes from St Pancras to the airport will beat the time from Liverpool Street to Stansted by 20 minutes and better the time from Victoria to Gatwick too.”

Construction is already under way on the airport’s separate £110 million redevelopment plans to increase capacity by 50% to 18 million passengers a by 2020.

Malcolm added: “Combined with the prospect of four fast trains an hour which we are lobbying for, this investment in mass passenger transit will transform the experience of those travelling to the airport by rail, and will encourage more people to do so and therefore help to reduce congestion on the roads.”

Airport chief executive, Nick Barton, added: “The creation of a mass passenger transmit link between Parkway station and the terminal is a milestone in the airport’s transformation and the first step towards creating a world-class air-rail service.”

Neil Slaven, commercial manager of easyJet, said: “A quicker and easier connection for passengers is a key part of the transformation of the airport and will help to attract more passengers to London Luton airport.”