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Rail & road tunnel between Scotland and Northern Ireland may soon get the green light

Rail & road tunnel between Scotland and Northern Ireland may soon get the green light
photo: Daily Mail/Tunnel NI UK, Boris Johnson
01 / 03 / 2021

The long-awaited project of a tunnel between Scotland and Northern Ireland could move from political proclamations and debates to a feasibility study stage as early as next month. The ambitious plan is nicknamed Boris's Burrow due to the enthusiastic support of the British Prime Minister.

It is believed that this large-scale investment will help alleviate post-Brexit tensions caused by checks for ferry cargo goods transported among the islands. A link between Larne in Northern Ireland and Stranraer in Scotland is being considered.

Boris Johnson has long expressed support for building a lasting connection between Britain and Northern Ireland. In 2020, Network Rail was commissioned by the UK government to develop solutions to strengthen transport infrastructure and improve connections between Scotland, Wales, Northern Ireland, and England.

The construction of a bridge was considered at first, but the weather on the turbulent Irish Sea would make the bridge inoperable "probably 100 days a year," as Scottish Minister Alister Jack said. The submarine tunnel variant, therefore, appears to be not only more reliable and better functioning, but also cheaper in the long run.

Network Rail is expected to publish a study in March that will address the conditions under which a tunnel can actually be built. Costs of around GBP 2 billion (approximately USD 2.8 billion) are already being talked about.

The proposal for a solution to connect all four English-speaking nations by rail comes from the High Speed Rail Group (HSRG). The idea of a railway tunnel across the Irish Sea with connecting rail links to Carlisle and Belfast addresses the challenges that arise in the Northern Ireland economy after Brexit while improving transport links in south-west Scotland.

HSRG Board Member Jim Steer said that "there is an urgent need for both new and improved transport links between the four nations of the United Kingdom, which have been systematically neglected for too long".

The United Kingdom is already connected to the European continent through the Eurostar network, which runs through the Channel Tunnel.

In Europe, meanwhile, a similar project called Fehmarn Belt Fixed Link is being built. It is an 11-mile tunnel under the Baltic Sea connecting Germany with Denmark. It will provide the main connection between Central Europe and Scandinavia and is due to be completed in 2029.