The Anonymous Widower

Stonehenge Tunnel Campaigners Win Court Battle

The title of this post, is the same as that of this article on the BBC.

This is the first part of the BBC article.

Campaigners have won a court battle to prevent the “scandalous” construction of a road tunnel near Stonehenge.

The £1.7bn Highways England project aimed to reduce A303 congestion but campaigners said it would detrimentally affect the world heritage site.

The government approved plans in 2020 for a two-mile (3.2km) tunnel to be created near the Wiltshire monument.

Mr Justice Holgate’s ruling means the order granted by transport secretary Grant Shapps has been quashed.

I obtained my driving licence in 1964 and since then the A303 past Stonehenge has been a worsening bottleneck.

I suspect that unreleased papers from successive governments since the 1960s would show that most Ministers of Transport hoped the problem of Stonehenge would be solved by the next Government of a different colour, which would hopefully lose them the next election.

If you read the whole of the BBC article you’ll see a large map from Highways England.


  1. The proposed tunnel is shown as a dotted red line to the South of Stonehenge, more or less following the line of the current A303.
  2. The Amesbury by-pass already exists in the East.
  3. A new Winterbourne Stoke by-pass will be built in the West.

Some feel that a longer tunnel might be the solution.

But it would probably need to start to the West of Winterbourne Stoke and be at least three times longer than the proposed tunnel.

So this short stretch of road would then probably cost around £5billion.

Can We Reduce The Traffic On This Road?

There are several ways that traffic might be reduced.

Universal Road Pricing

Every vehicle would be fitted with a meter, which charged drivers depending on the following.

  • The type of vehicle.
  • The congestion on the road.
  • The speed, at which the vehicle is travelling.

It might work, but any government introducing universal road pricing would lose the next General Election by a landslide.

Tolls On Parts Of The A303

Again it might work and push drivers to find other routes.

Improve Other Routes Like The M4

As capacity is increased on other routes, drivers could be lured away from the busy section of the A303 around Stonehenge.

Improve Rail Services Between Paddington And West Of Exeter

I know because of friends, who regularly go to Devon and \Cornwall for both weekends and longer holidays, that many people go to the far-South West by car and most will use the A303 route to and from London.

These services are run by Great Western Railway and the destinations in the South West are not as comprehensive as they could be.

  • GWR’s Class 802 trains can split and join efficiently, which could mean they could serve more destinations with the same number of trains.
  • GWR seem to be in favour of developing more direct services between London and Bodmin, Okehampton and other places.
  • GWR are adding stations to their network in the South-West.

But most importantly, GWR, Hitachi and the Eversholt Rail Group are developing the Hitachi Intercity Tri-Mode Battery Train, which will lower carbon-emissions on the route. This Hitachi infographic describes the train.

These trains could attract numbers of car drivers to use the train, rather than drive.

Improve The Night Riviera Between Paddington And Penzance

Most other sleeper trains in Europe have renewed their fleet.

An improvement in the rolling stock could encourage more people to travel this way.

Improve Rail Services Between Waterloo And Exeter

The rail line between Waterloo and Exeter via Basingstoke and Salisbury runs within a dozen miles of Stonehenge.

  • The rolling stock is thirty-year-old British Rail diesel trains.
  • It is not electrified to the West of Basingstoke.
  • There are portions of single-track railway.

The Waterloo and Exeter line could be improved.

  • Remove some sections of single track.
  • Upgrade the operating speed to up to 100 mph in places.
  • Use a version of the latest Hitachi Intercity Tri-Mode Battery Train
  • Add some new stations.

I believe the quality, frequency and journey times of the service could all be improved.

Would this second fast route from the South-West encourage more to take the train?

Stonehenge And Wilton Junction Station

Stonehenge may be the problem, but it can also be part of the solution.

In The Proposal For Stonehenge And Wilton Junction Station, I write about an innovative proposal, that uses a car park at a new station to create a Park-And-Ride for both Stonehenge and Salisbury.

This could bring more visitors to Stonehenge without their cars.


None of these proposals will take vast amounts of pressure from the A303. But every little helps.

Some like the decarbonisation of rail services will have to be done anyway.


July 30, 2021 - Posted by | Transport/Travel, World | , , , , ,


  1. I used to live and work close to Stonehenge, in an earlier life. The solution is simple, build a by-pass that avoids ALL the sensitive areas. Some of the grass plains to the north of Shrewton and the Henge are of scientific value (not ploughed for million+ years) – tunnel underneath them.
    Look at the big picture, don’t get lost in the minutiae.

    Comment by John Robin St.Clair | July 30, 2021 | Reply

  2. Sticking just with your point that if an alternative tunnel were to be dug, it would make the alternative three times longer than the longest roadway tunnel, the hundred year old Queensway Tunnel under the Mersey and far longer than the intended Lower Thames Crossing which will be 2.4 miles long. In Guildford our MP is lobbying for a 5.5 mile tunnel to reduce congestion on a stretch of the A3, which according to Highways England has the highest levels of NOx on England’s trunk road network.
    Incidentally why not wire the route from Salisbury to Exeter with provision for dual track and run dual voltage EMUs.
    I’d love to see increased use of the rail network but I can’t imagine people would want to holiday in Devon and Cornwall while relying on the dire shortage of public transport.

    Comment by fammorris | July 31, 2021 | Reply

    • Guildford is an interesting problem and it applies to lots of roads all over the UK. Perhaps one solution to the pollution, is to make some roads zero-carbon only.

      I know it would be inconvenient, but there could be a charge through the polluted area, if your vehicle wasn’t zero-carbon. It’s happening in London with the ULEZ. If you don’t like the charge, change your car for an electric or hydrogen one.

      You ask why not wire the route. I now believe that the disruption of installing wires, where there are lots of verbridges upsets the populace so much, that they get anti-railway. But now battery trains have ranges of nearly 60 miles, they are a cheaper option with perhaps short lengths of overhead wires, where no-one is bothered. A lot of overbridges can be left untouched and there is no disruption during installation.

      As to the shortage of public transport problem, services like ZipCar are surely a good alternative.

      Uber or equivalent working in rural areas would be another alternative.

      Comment by AnonW | July 31, 2021 | Reply

      • I think that you’ve illustrated that the perfectly valid technical/entrepreneurial solutions, of which you’ve touched on, prove that in the end these particular issues are as much societal or economic subjects as anything.
        I wonder if there’s ever been the consideration of a relief route for GWR from Reading via Basingstoke and Salisbury to Exeter – just an idle thought.

        Comment by fammorris | August 1, 2021

  3. It should be remembered that First Group runs both services to Exeter, so if they have the same Hitachi trains, this must give advantages.

    Reading and Basingstoke needs the builders in to increase capacity, but both stations can handle it.

    Comment by AnonW | August 1, 2021 | Reply

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