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Trans-Pennine road tunnel options published

Words: Laura Edgar
A57 through the Peak District

A series of studies have been published today (18 August) – one listing five potential routes for the Trans-Pennine route between Manchester to Sheffield.

A further study sets out the case to improve connections between Oxford, Milton Keynes and Cambridge, and a third suggests that improvement to the A1 could create safer, quicker and more reliable journeys.

All three studies have been published by the Department for Transport.

Trans-Pennine tunnel


The Trans-Pennine tunnel study was launched by the government in autumn 2015, following the announcement of the Roads Investment Strategy in December 2014.

The government said the tunnel could be a “national first and almost halve journey times” between Manchester and Sheffield.

All five routes join the M60 east of Manchester to the M11 north of Sheffield. Four options start at the M67, with journeys expected to be cut by 30 minutes.

According to the government, the link would both help to protect the environment by reducing traffic through the Peak District National Park and support its plan to create a Northern Powerhouse.

John Hayes, transport minister, said: “I want people in the north of England to benefit from quicker, more reliable journeys. “Today’s (18 August) 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.

"This phase is aimed at creating more vital links, creating jobs and opportunities and helping hard-working families across the country feel the benefits of our investment.”

John Cridland, chairman, Transport for the North, added: “The study shows a tunnel beneath the Pennines would both boost the economy of the region, and potentially benefit the environment of the Peak District by reducing traffic in the national park.

“This is just one of the visionary projects Transport for the North is working on, as well as other schemes, such as Northern Powerhouse Rail, as we continue to develop a Transport & Investment Strategy to connect the North and transform its economy.”

Oxford to Milton Keynes to Cambridge


This was also announced last autumn. The report suggests that a new link between the three cities would help to improve journey times by up to 30 minutes, supporting economic growth in the towns and cities on the Oxford and Cambridge expressway. 

The government said the network could also benefit local communities by improving access to amenities, cutting congestion in built-up areas and enabling the delivery of new homes.

Further proposals on the route of the expressway will now be developed.

A1 – east of England


The A1 east of England strategic study suggests that a 62-mile stretch of the A1 between London and Peterborough needs upgrading. 

According to the study, improving the A1 in Hertfordshire, Bedfordshire and Cambridgeshire could cut congestion and help reduce the environmental impact of the existing layout. An improved network could also lead to safer links for walkers, cyclists and horse riders.

Options to improve the A1 will now be worked up, including a new motorway section between Baldock and Huntingdon.

All three studies form part of the government’s next phase of road improvement, which will get under way from 2020. The current strategy covers the period from 2015 to 2020.

Updated interim report of the Trans-Pennine tunnel strategic study can be found here. 

Interim report of the Oxford to Cambridge strategic study can be found here. 

Interim report of the A1 east of England strategic study can be found here. 

Image credit | Paul Anderson