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Boost for Pennines tunnel plan

Moves to tunnel through the Pennines moved a step closer today as a viability study was announced.

Highways England awarded a £1.3bn deal to a Mouchel/Hyder joint venture to assist the client body with a fresh report into the mooted Trans-Pennine Tunnel.

The study was commissioned by the Department for Transport and cities collaboration Transport for the North to investigate the strategic and economic case for a new highway route between Manchester and Sheffield.

It will also consider the potential to combine the road with a rail or light rail link.

Road minister Andrew Jones said: “As part of our long-term economic plan we are investing a record £13bn in transport for the North and North-East. Today’s announcement will look at building stronger links between Manchester and Sheffield, meaning more jobs and opportunities for people across the region.

“It is just one of the steps this government is taking to ensure working people across the country benefit from our investment in better transport.”

Civils contractors backed the move.

Civil Engineering Contractors Association (Ceca) chief executive Alasdair Reisner said: “Ceca fully supports the government’s policy of improving connectivity to rebalance the economy.

“Ceca has called for dedicated east-west infrastructure in the north of England, efficiently linking all transport and other infrastructure networks across the region.

“Today’s announcement is a welcome step towards building stronger links between Manchester and Sheffield, which has the potential to deliver much-needed jobs and growth to the region.”

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