The Anonymous Widower

Engineers Want Tunnel Of Love Under Irish Sea To Unite UK

The title of this post is the same as this article on the Sunday Times.

This is the introductory paragraph.

The UK really could become a United Kingdom, according to top engineers who propose linking Britain and Northern Ireland with a high-speed rail tunnel under the Irish Sea.

The possibility of such a tunnel, is all down to improvements in tunnelling techniques.

  • Tunnelling speeds have increased by three times in the last thirty years and could double in the next ten.
  • Future tunnel boring machine would line the tunnel using cement mixed with the rock debris.
  • It should also be remembered, that once built, tunnels don’t suffer from the weather.

Behind the plan are the Institution of Civil Engineers and the British Tunnelling Society.

The report is also suggesting these tunnels.

  • To the Isle of Wight
  • Weston-super-Mare to Cardiff
  • Under the Humber

As to the Irish tunnel, the article discuses these routes.

Anglesey and Dublin

It would be fifty miles and an engineering possibility. But would it be too sensitive politically, so soon after Brexit.

Stranraer and Larne

Possible, but there are reportedly a million tonnes of World War Two bombs dumped in the area and a lot of connecting railways would need to be built.

North of Liverpool And South Of Belfast via The Isle Of Man

This sounds crazy and would involve nearly a hundred miles of twin tunnels.

  • But it is the preferred route!
  • Could the tunnelling conditions be excellent?
  • It appears the North of the Isle of Man is flat farming country.
  • The article gives tunnelling costs at £80million per mile, so it would be an £8billion pound project.
  • It could be easily linked to the West Coast Main Line and High Speed Two at several places.
  • It could carry freight as well!

It is going to be very interesting to read the report.


Have the engineers been watching The Great Escape too often?

Possibly, but engineering is the science of the possible and politics is dreams of the impossible.


January 5, 2020 - Posted by | Transport/Travel | , , ,


  1. Different gauge in Ireland remember so would need connecting standard gauge rail and a new station/platforms in Belfast, where passengers could change.

    Freight wouldn’t be able to match the speeds of HS2 so would only be able to use the tunnel overnight to avoid holding up the high speed passenger trains. Would also require a freight hub in NI to transfer goods to road.

    Comment by J m | January 6, 2020 | Reply

    • As a new high speed line to Dublin would probably be built with EU money, that would be standard gauge.

      The Irish and the EU are also keen to develop a deep water container terminal in the Shannon Estuary. It would save time getting goods by ship between Germany and the States. Could that use HS2 at night?

      Comment by AnonW | January 6, 2020 | Reply

  2. Daft idea which should be dropped.

    Comment by mauricegreed | January 6, 2020 | Reply

  3. Anyone who says they can tunnel for 80 million a mile is doing drugs or staggeringly ignorant.

    Comment by William | January 6, 2020 | Reply

    • The Sunday Times figure was £8m a mile. It is low, but the technology is getting better and it was from the ICE report. I remember at Liverpool University in the 1960s a mad mechanical engineer was looking at the economics of a tunnel boring machine powered by a nuclear submarine engine. There’s quite a few mad ideas out there and some will work. My personal favourite is Highview Power!

      Comment by AnonW | January 6, 2020 | Reply

  4. In Scotland there live 5.44 million people, but in Northern Ireland there live 1.88 million people only.

    I do not understand why building a tunnel under the Irish Sea might be a priority before HS2
    has at least reached the Scottish border (with the completion of phase 3) which will not be
    the case in the first half of this century anymore.

    The UK government does not even know how to finance HS2 phase 1.

    Therefore I think that this tunnel project should be discussed again in 2050 at the earliest.

    Maybe then Northern Ireland does not belong to the UK anymore.

    Comment by Wolfgang Maresch | January 6, 2020 | Reply

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