Trans-Pennine tunnel plan between Sheffield and Manchester 'should be dropped'

Plans for a twin-bore Trans-Pennine road tunnel between Sheffield and Manchester should be dropped, according to Transport for the North.

Tuesday, 2nd February 2021, 12:30 pm
A Trans-Pennine tunnel was suggested as a way to improve links between Sheffield and Manchester.

In a letter to transport secretary Grant Shapps, TfN stressed there are ‘significant challenges’ and said ‘there should be no further’ plans.

The tunnel plan was unveiled in 2016 as a way to cut congestion and speed up travel between the two cities.

In 2018, the proposed length was shortened from up to 20m to just 5m as the high cost of building outweighed its economic case.

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In 2020 Highways England said the route would pass through the ‘highest and most difficult terrain’ but could significantly increase journeys between the two cities.

TfN major roads director Peter Molyneux said other options should be considered to improve connectivity in the region.

He said: “Road and rail links between Greater Manchester and the Sheffield City Region are currently really poor and need investment,” he said.

"The existing road link across the Pennines is notoriously below par. It's regularly congested, and is closed for an average of 70 days a year due to bad weather.

“While a tunnelled dual carriageway may not be the answer, we’ve expressed our view to government that more work should be done to look at environmentally sustainable solutions for both road and rail across the Pennines.”

According to the TfN letter, plans could still be considered for a shorter single-bore tunnel if financially viable and there should be improvements to the A628 Woodhead Pass and A616 to improve connectivity.

Sheffield City Region mayor Dan Jarvis said: "If the government are serious about levelling up, they must work with us to address this challenge."

He called for a sustainable solution to congestion and for improvements to the route's resilience during bad weather.

A Department for Transport spokesman said: "We are focused on investing billions to level up infrastructure across the North.

"We have committed £1bn to dual the A66 which will transform travel across the northern Pennines and are continuing to work with northern leaders to identify their priorities."

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