A bridge too far! Boris’s dream of a crossing to Northern Ireland is shattered after official review finds it would cost up to £335BILLION to build – double the annual NHS budget
Boris Johnson’s dream of a bridge or tunnel from Scotland to Northern Ireland was shattered today as an official review found it would cost up to £335billion.
The PM was enthusiastic about the link, which he insisted could help strengthen the union after Brexit.
However, the proposal was derided as the ‘stupidest bridge in history’ while Tory MPs joked the trains would be ‘pulled by unicorns. Critics pointed out it could require clearing out a huge undersea munitions dump.
Network Rail chairman Sir Peter Hendy was asked by Mr Johnson to carry out a feasibility study – but he concluded today that the ‘benefits could not possibly outweigh the costs’.
He said the the full route could be as much as £335billion for a bridge crossing and £209billion for a tunnel crossing – many times higher than the figures that had previously been mooted.
‘Future transport technological advances, particularly autonomous vehicles, could allow for different tunnel and bridge designs, which could enable the construction of a fixed transport link and approaches at a lower cost,’ Sir Peter wrote.
‘For now, though, the benefits could not possibly outweigh the costs to the public purse.
‘It is therefore my recommendation to Government that further work on the fixed link should not progress beyond this feasibility study.’
However, in a crumb of comfort for the PM Sir Peter added: ‘Despite my recommendation, I am clear that this was an excellent question to ask.
‘For many decades, politicians and engineers have debated this proposal, but have done so without the evidence to show whether it was possible and, if so, what it would take to do it.’
The proposed bridge or tunnel would have potentially run between Portpatrick in Scotland and Larne in County Antrim
Network Rail chairman Sir Peter Hendy (right) was asked by the Prime Minister to launch a feasibility study and it is understood he has ruled out such a plan for the foreseeable future
The review concluded that said the the full route could be as much as £335billion for a bridge crossing and £209billion for a tunnel crossing – many times higher than the figures that had previously been mooted
The bridge or tunnel idea was examined as part of a wider study called the Union Connectivity Review, looking at how transport links between the four UK nations can be boosted.
It is understood that the report will leave the door open to a fixed link connecting Scotland and Northern Ireland in future.
It will also recommend boosting capacity on the West Coast Main Line rail link from London to Glasgow, and upgrading the A75, the road to Scotland’s west coast and the Northern Ireland ferry ports.
Road and rail improvements between England and Wales will also be urged.
Last night the PM said he intended to accept a recommendation to create UKNET, a new body with representatives from the four nations which will identify and map out how cross-border connections can be boosted.
Henri Murison of the Northern Powerhouse Partnership commented: ‘With the Boris Bridge to Northern Ireland back in the cereal box it came in, it is time to focus on infrastructure projects which have a strong economic case, such as a new line across the Pennines all the way from Manchester to Leeds via Bradford.’