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Sun January 26 2020

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Engineers lobby for tunnel-building bonanza

6 Jan The Institution of Civil Engineers (ICE) is preparing a case for the construction of tunnels under the Irish Sea, the Solent, the Humber estuary and the Severn estuary.

Tunnel boring machine
Tunnel boring machine

A report to be published by the ICE argues that the tumbling cost of building tunnels is making them increasing feasible.

“Construction is getting faster and cheaper every year”, former British Tunnelling Society chairman and lead author of the report Bill Grose told the Sunday Times.

Since the Channel Tunnel opened in 1994, tunnelling speeds have trebled to about 160ft a day, and could reach 320ft a day within the next 10 years, he said.

The ICE report backs proposals for a tunnel linking the Isle of Wight to the UK mainland under the Solent and for sub-estuary tunnels linking Weston-super-Mare with Cardiff and north and south Humberside.

Most viable route options for a tunnel under the Irish Sea, it suggests, include Holyhead to Dublin and Lancashire to Belfast, surfacing briefly midway for the Isle of Man.

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