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Government shortlists Pennine tunnel options

Government shortlists Pennine tunnel options

The government has shortlisted five possible options for a road tunnel under the Pennines between Manchester and Sheffield as part of a study into the plan.

At present, journeys between the two cities are slow because the moorland topography means roads have to wind in and out of valleys, around hills and over ridges. In addition, the high altitude of some roads, such as the Snake Pass, make them vulnerable to closure due to snow in wintertime. The option of extensive surface works such as digging deep cuttings is not feasible as most of this land is covered by the Peak District National Park.

To speed journeys up and help provide a transport boost between east and west, the tunnel will offer a swift, straight and weather-proof link that would halve journey times between the cities, bolstering the Northern Powerhouse project and reducing the levels of traffic passing through the national park.

The five options would all link the M60 on the east side of Manchester with the M1 north of Sheffield, with four of the five options acting as extensions of the M67, which currently runs eastwards from the M60 at Denton as far as Mottram in Longdendale. The A628 Woodhead Pass currently crosses the Pennines from here. The fifth option would start north of the M67, with a junction connecting the new route with the M60 around Ashton-under-Lyne.

Junior transport minister John Hayes said: "I want people in the north of England to benefit from quicker, more reliable journeys.

"Today’s study brings us a step closer to building a Trans-Pennine roads tunnel - it would be the most ambitious project since the construction of the first motorways 50 years ago."

Reports have also been published today (August 17th) into the A1 East of England route and the Cambridge to Oxford Expressway.

The Interim A1 study has concluded that the current route provides inadequate connectivity, is often located too near built-up areas and cuts many communities in half, while the Oxford to Cambridge study seeks to improve east-west connectivity between the two cities, as well as Milton Keynes between them.


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