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'Strong strategic case' for £6bn Sheffield to Manchester tunnel

Trans pennine tunnel route map
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Highways England has said there is a ‘strong strategic case’ for a TransPennine Tunnel between Sheffield and Manchester - but that it could take up to 25 years to build

Alan Shepherd, Highways England North-west regional director, told the AJ’s sister title Construction News that he hoped the chancellor would give the green light to the project in the Autumn Statement (23 November).

Speaking at the CN Summit 2016, he said that the project could be the world’s longest tunnel and Europe’s largest civil engineering project in the past 30 years.

Five routes were shortlisted for the proposed £6billion tunnel, which will link Manchester to Sheffield, in August this year.

Asked whether the UK had the correct skillset to deliver a major tunnelling project of this scale, Shepherd said HS2’s bidders and procurement were ’a good analogy’ for how the process would work.

Shepherd said Highways England would look at larger contractors to deliver the project in tandem with international firms, citing current Northern delivery partners Kier and a Balfour Beatty / Mott MacDonald joint venture.

He added: ’[But] if we need to get tunnellers in from Norway, we can do that.’

Shepherd was speaking alongside Scarborough Group joint chief executive Simon Marshall and Liverpool City Council assistant chief executive Catherine Garnell.

The panel agreed that east-west connectivity was vital for the Northern Powerhouse agenda, with a strong case for HS3.

Marshall said projects like the Ordsall Chord, which will link Manchester’s Victoria and Piccadilly stations, would ’lay the groundwork’ for better connectivity across the region.

He added that increased connectivity would make the North’s core cities even more attractive to international funders, and added that government support for schemes had helped his firm ’to go to the Far East with a clear message’ for investors.

Ordsall Chord Skanska Bam Nuttall CGI 1

Ordsall Chord Skanska Bam Nuttall CGI 1

Garnell said investment in Liverpool’s port would be just the start of the city’s investment in its infrastructure, with upcoming investments including a new cruise liner terminal to boost tourism in the city.

She added that the city is looking to secure additional government funding in the Autumn Statement for a major overhaul of its public realm, following on from an earlier £40m investment.

 

 

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Readers' comments (1)

  • Hopefully the development of the approaches to a road tunnel would be more deftly handled than the Ordsall Chord rail link (now under construction, despite the best efforts of Mark Whitby) - the illustration shows the clumsy destruction of the grade 2 listed bridge approach, on George Stephenson's Liverpool & Manchester Railway, to the grade 1 listed bridge and the very historic grade 1 listed Liverpool Road Station, the world's oldest surviving passenger terminus, severing the rail connection to the museum.
    The new arched railway bridge over the Irwell doesn't make up for this, and many an architect and engineer might wonder whether the new link couldn't have been designed to 'fly' elegantly at a higher level over the existing tracks, with the major added benefit of providing grade separated connections at each end of the new link, thereby avoiding the tedious delays to trains waiting to cross busy flat junctions - so familiar to travellers all over the country.
    This avoidable assault on some of the country's most important transport heritage looks more like half-baked botch than inspired connectivity; not a very good advertisement for the 'Northern Powerhouse'

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