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Proposed infrastructure projects include links to Ireland, a London cycle lane in the sky, and a River Severn barrage

cycle skylaneThe BBC News Magazine follows up their previous story about projects that might be more useful than High Speed Rail.  Perhaps other readers thought their five original choices as unexciting as I did, for their follow-up suggests another five projects that have been proposed.  These include links between mainland UK and Ireland.  A bridge from Galloway in Scotland to Northern Ireland would be 21 miles long, making it the longest sea bridge in the world.  I regularly crossed the Seven Mile Bridge in the Florida Keys, and would find a journey of three times that distance in much worse weather a rather daunting one.

An alternative link calls for a rail tunnel between Holyhead in Wales and Dublin.  This would connect the Republic of Ireland to the EU, so might attract EU funding which, even in these straitened times, they still splash around like water.  A road tunnel would need to be 50% wider and have ventilation half way, which costs money.  A rail tunnel is more practical, but would need to cover 50 miles under water.

An aerial cycle way for London is probably a non-starter.  The proposal calls for a 14m wide highway, with lifts and ramps to get cyclists up there, and capable of delivering 5,000 cyclists an hour into and out of central London.  There simply is not that much money in cycling.  And while a Hull to Liverpool rail line with a Trans Pennine tunnel would greatly shorten journey times between the two cities, the likely usage is questionable, and hence the economic case is too.

The Severn Barrage is perhaps the most plausible of the five, in that its huge tidal range gives scope for massive power generation.  One suggested location is a 10 mile stretch between Cardiff and Weston-super-Mare.  Tides would be trapped by the barrage coming in, then released to drive turbines.  Advocates claim it could provide 5% of UK electricity, equivalent to 2 or 3 nuclear power stations.  The previous government looked at it and rejected it as too costly, and money is now tighter than it was.  I rather think that while it’s good to think of things that might make better use of cash than HS2, none of these 10 proposals is likely to see the first spade in the ground anytime soon.


2 Responses

  1. Dear Dr Pirie

    The whole purpose of HS2 is to squander taxpayers’ money, with a possible EU driver of a network linking all parts of its empire as you say in the case of the Dublin tunnel. Cost immaterial,

    Economic viability doesn’t come into it.

    Re the Severn barrage – what price the Severn bore?


  2. The most useful projects would be the ones nobody can imagine but which innovation will produce but for politicians and people at the BBC with delusions of adequacy… like railways (no governmentroject gave us those), on-line shopping, tablet computers, wi-fi, and so many more.

    Government gave us Concorde; free market enterise gave us Jumbo Jets.

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