Currently reading: Government evaluating road from Northern Ireland to Scotland
Prime minister Boris Johnson sets out plan to 'unify' transport between UK's four nations with tunnel or bridge
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2 mins read
10 March 2021

The government has launched an official feasibility study into the prospect of a tunnel or bridge between Northern Ireland and Scotland as part of the prime minister's bold plan to "improve pan-UK transport links".

Network Rail chairman and ex-Transport for London Commissioner Peter Hendy has been asked by Boris Johnson to "address the problem of union connectivity" as a means of accelerating the UK's recovery from the Covid-19 pandemic. 

The nature of the potential 'fixed link' has yet to be determined, but the BBC reports expert estimates of a total outlay between £15 billion and £20bn. 

The proposed Irish Sea crossing forms part of a plan to cultivate a UK-wide transport strategy to replace the devolved and disparate system currently in place across the four nations of the UK. The government has allocated £20 million to the improvement and updating of several key transport corridors. 

Other projects mooted as part of the scheme include a widening of the predominantly single-carriageway A1 road north of Newcastle upon Tyne and a congestion-relieving scheme on the much-maligned M4 corridor.

The oft-congested A75 in south-west Scotland has been earmarked for improvement, too, which would speed up transit times for freight delivered to the Scottish port of Cairnryan from Ireland. 

Johnson outlined his motivations for the scheme: "For far too long, we have tended to carve up the country through a devolve-and-forget approach. We have devised transport strategies for Scotland, for Wales, for Northern Ireland and [for] Northern England – and yet, incredible as it may seem, we have failed to produce a UK-wide transport strategy.

"We left it, bizarrely, to the EU, which had a concept called the Trans-European Transport Network. The UK paid handsomely for our friends to draw these lines on the map, about €420m [£359.6m] per year. We only got about 10% back.

"The result is that the sinews of pan-UK transport have atrophied, with inadequate connections, needless bottlenecks and endless delays on the vital links between one part of the UK and another."

Johnson also wants to overhaul the tax structure for domestic air travel and potentially explore the possibility of overhauling the main railway north of Newcastle to speed up journey times from London to Glasgow. 

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Bolida 10 March 2021

Let’s face it he just wants a Boris Bridge or Tunnwel to be built somewhere in the UK. A vanity project that will cost millions in evaluation costs and then end up cancelled. Remember the Garden Bridge ? £54m and never happened

Old But not yet Dead 10 March 2021

How can a country that cannot keep its existing roads maintained properly even begin to think this is feasible.

TStag 10 March 2021
This tunnel would connect about 6 million people is Scotland to about 3 million in Northern Ireland. If the Channel tunnel has struggled to make money then this never will.

I’m not against a tunnel but linking Wales to the Republic would serve far more people

streaky 10 March 2021

Is it going to be a rail or a road tunnel?  Many complained when it was announced that the channel tunnel would not be for cars, citing safety reasons (accidents, fire etc).  What has changed to make a road tunnel to Northern Island feasible now?  If that went ahead I think there'd be a clamour for a road tunnel under the channel also.

superstevie 10 March 2021

Wales and ROI link is fine, and actually probably a more useful link to be honest. However, if the point of this is to woo Scottish voters (like me) to stay in the UK if we get a second referendum, by showing that UK is paying for infratucture in Scotland, then this link goes against that. 

I think a tunnel/bridge would be a complete waste of time in all honesty. It would be far better to pay for proper infrastucture througout Scotland, Northern Ireland and North of England. There could be a lot of tangible benefits in that than in some vanity, headline creating project that no one is actually asking for