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Airport tzar Moylan: Farrell's rail hub airport link is 'ludicrous'

The Mayor’s aviation adviser Daniel Moylan has branded plans by Terry Farrell to improve rail links as an alternative  to increasing airport capacity as ‘ludicrous’.

Speaking at the AJ100 breakfast club yesterday (30 January), Boris Johnson’s newly appointed airport tzar said the proposal to maximise runway use by improving train routes between London’s airports was among the ‘slightly tedious and wholly fantastical’ ideas put forward by experts.

Moylan confirmed that Mayor Johnson, although open to ideas about Luton and Stansted, was openly ‘biased’ towards a new hub airport in the Thames Estuary.  

Though not naming Farrell explicitly, Moylan said that his rival High Speed Rail scheme for carrying transfer passenger was not going to solve the country’s aviation problems and labelled it ‘mildly ludicrous’ (AJ 12.10.2011).

We appear to be offering visitors a pastoral excursion through the English countryside

He said the ‘virtual airport’ proposal threw up numerous problems, including issues with immigration if passengers did not have to go through passport control: ‘We appear to be offering visitors a pastoral excursion through the English countryside’.

Moylan argued that instead of short-term, small scale measures, London had to create a proper hub airport which could be an air-junction for passengers all over the world like Schiphol in Holland, Dubai and Frankfurt in Germany.

He said that the impacts of the environment and sound pollution were among a raft of reasons why Heathrow should not be expanded and that, in any event, adding just one extra runway would not be create a sufficiently efficient super-hub serving a ‘global city’.

If Heathrow expansion was ruled out, then this ‘hub’ would have to be built elsewhere and he claimed that east London was favoured because of its huge potential regenerative effects for that side of the capital.

He said an estuary airport could also be properly connected to the rest of the country  

Daniel Moylan: ‘My dream, and I haven’t bottomed this out yet in engineering terms, is for The Thames Estuary airport to have a fast, 20 minute rail link into London. One spur would go into St Pancras then  a tunnel through to Paddington.

‘The other would go to London Bridge with a tunnel through to Waterloo. Then people from Wales and the west side of England can’t say it is on the wrong side of London.

‘We also have to make the mental shift from it being normal to go to the airport by car.’

If the government decided to back an Estuary airport, Moylan believes it would take 12 years to get built – an ‘arbitrary five years for planning and seven years in construction.’

Moylan was confident could be delivered by British architects and engineers who were ‘patently doing’ similar scheme around the world.

He added: ‘This project won’t be mired in incompetence.‘

However Moylan criticised the timetable for the government’s aviation review – spearheaded by Howard Davies  which is not expected to deliver its findings for another three years.

‘This is in the governmental long grass. Howard Davies knows very well he could do this in a year. Meanwhile time is being lost and our competitors in Europe are gleefully sucking this up.’

‘If we don’t embark on this all our airports will be full by 2030.

Moylan was unwilling to discuss any interim, capacity-improving measures until an overall solution had been agreed. He said: ‘You can’t talk about short term [fixes] until you have a long term measure agreed on. We are quite firm on that.’   

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