Pennine tunnel plans move to next stage

A joint venture between Mouchel and Hyder has been awarded a £1.3m contract to investigate the feasibility of a tunnel through the Pennines connecting Manchester and Sheffield, as part of the government’s road investment strategy.

The study, which aims to identify solutions to tackle congestion and act as an enabler to economic growth, has been commissioned by the Department for Transport and Transport for the North and is being led by Highways England.

The research will investigate the strategic and economic case for a new highway route between Manchester and Sheffield, including assessing the potential opportunities of combining with a rail or light rail link. It is anticipated that the new route will cross the Pennines and the Peak District National Park by means of a road tunnel which will extend for several miles in length.

Mouchel and Hyder will carry out viability studies prior to the options stage.

Andrew Jones, Road Minister, said: “As part of our long-term economic plan we are investing a record £13bn in transport for the North and North East. Today’s announcement will look at building stronger links between Manchester and Sheffield, meaning more jobs and opportunities for people across the region.

“It is just one of the steps this government is taking to ensure working people across the country benefit from our investment in better transport.”

Dr Jon Lamonte, lead officer for Transport for the North, said: “We welcome this important milestone and look forward to the commencement of the study which is a key element of both the RIS 1 programme and Transport for the North’s longer-term transport strategy as set out in March 2015. We look forward to continued working with Highways England and the Department for Transport to deliver the vision for a Northern Powerhouse.”

The government’s commitment to improving transport in the North comes weeks after Transport Secretary Patrick McLoughlin announced that the electrification of the Transpennine train route between Manchester and Leeds was to be postponed, as part of a raft of changes to railway operator Network Rail.

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Don’t be fooled by the government’s £13bn figure as it includes existing pre-announced (and subsequently delayed) schemes such as Northern Hub, existing upgrades to the A1 from London and all council spending on local transport schemes including funding allocated for filling in potholes! An outrageous piece of government spin.

By Government Spin Watch

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