Revised plans for Pennine tunnel being considered

Transport for the North (TfN) has revealed it is working with Highways England and the Department for Transport (DfT) on revised plans for a road tunnel across the southern Pennines, to improve connections between Liverpool and Hull.

It said the proposal ‘would see a shorter tunnel than originally proposed under the Pennines, combined with major upgrades to the Woodhead Pass route and new road links east of Sheffield’.

TfN made the comment as it announced it had agreed a £69bn 30-year strategic plan for the region with civic and business leaders, identifying seven key ‘corridors’ and two pan-Northern priorities for investment.

TfN said the cost of the 30-year plan equates to less than £150 per northern citizen per year, or £2-2.3bn in total per year. This only amounts to ‘£50 per person per year (£700-£900m per year) additional spending’ TfN claimed when adjusting for ongoing standard investment.

The strategic transport plan is set to be published on 16 January, with a public consultation running  to early April 2018.

Calling for sustained prioritised investment in the region’s railways and roads over a 30-year period, the transport corridors highlighted by TfN ‘link important assets and major economic centres’ and are ‘currently in need of improved connectivity’.

TfN highlighted the ‘Connecting the Energy Coasts’ corridor, which will explore ways to improve connectivity between some of the UK’s important non-carbon energy and research assets in Cumbria, Lancashire, North Yorkshire, the North East and Tees Valley.

John Cridland, TfN chairman, said: ‘Our plans would revolutionise travel around the North, particularly East–West links, which have previously not received enough attention, and, by extension, will improve how the region does business.

‘For decades, the North has underperformed compared to the rest of England. Robust evidence shows that investing in quality infrastructure, as well as in other important areas such as education, skills development and research, could lead to more than 850,000 additional jobs in the North by 2050 and £100bn additional Gross Value Added.’

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