Q&A: Daniel Moylan

Daniel Moylan, airports tsar to London mayor Boris Johnson has, post-Davies report, been appointed to oversee Crossrail 2. So is an estuary airport dead in the water or is there light at the end of the tunnel?

So, you’ve shifted from working on the mayor’s pet project to Crossrail. Are we to assume that’s the end of any plans for a Boris Island?

Not at all – and stop calling it Boris Island! We need a proper solution to London’s airport capacity crisis. It can’t be achieved with Heathrow expansion and to use Gatwick would be turning our back on the concept of a single UK hub, which would be mad. The only answer is an airport to the east of London. The Airport Commission’s Davies report proved itself not relevant to the needs of the capital – we have to move on from it.


What about another hub like Birmingham or Manchester?

The point of a hub is that all airlines are aiming to get as many passengers in one place to reach as many destinations as possible as often as possible. There might be under-capacity at these airports, but in moving there you’d reduce flight options. Arguments about rail congestion to a London hub don’t wash- you can fly in from anywhere in the UK. Airports like Schiphol already mop up UK provincial passengers to get them to Amsterdam- that’s what we’re up against.


So what’s the timetable for Crossrail 2?

You know, I’ve only been in the role a few days now, and I wouldn’t want to get it wrong. You’d best speak to the Crossrail press office!*


With Crossrail well under way, what the lessons will you be applying to this project?

I don’t know if it’s about lessons learned, but I’ll tell you what I think the difference is. Crossrail was about the fast connectivity through the centre of London. I would say that Crossrail 2 is more about the periphery – supporting the wider development of homes and jobs at London’s edges – places like the Upper Lea Valley that are underserved transport-wise.


Given the current wrangles over HS2, do you think it’s justified to invest this much in London’s infrastructure?  

The fact is that the south east is a success story. By 2050 Greater London is projected to have over 11.5m people. You might say that’s a terrible thought and we need to build elsewhere but practicality says it would be far better to plan for it – to cater for the transport and housing needs of an inevitably rising local population.


Speaking of which, what about TfL’s HQ by Charles Holden being turned into flats?

I think it’s just gone in for planning. Personally, I think it’s regrettable that they’re trying to change the use. The problem is that over the years the place has been partitioned – when Holden designed it to be open plan, with huge windows letting light and air in. The whole thing should be restored and kept as TfL’s HQ. An organisation working in the public interest has a duty to maintain the civic quality of its buildings.



TfL has completed a second consultation on Crossrail 2 to inform the revised safeguarding for the route. It is also completing a range of studies which have examined development potential along the route, funding and financing options and engineering and operational constraints. These will inform a revised business case for the scheme. The mayor intends to use this to ask government for funding to take the scheme forward – submitting an application for powers by 2017, gaining powers and procuring the construction of the scheme by 2019 and building the scheme by 2029.