Peak District road tunnel to cost £1 billion

Highways England's preferred routes for a tunnel between Sheffield and Manchester.
Highways England's preferred routes for a tunnel between Sheffield and Manchester.

A £1 billion road tunnel under the Pennines will slash journey times from Sheffield to Manchester.

Highways England has unveiled five options for the ‘Trans-Pennine Tunnel’ – all involving a road under the Peak District – to connect the M1 in South Yorkshire to the M60 around Manchester.

The new road could cut journey times by up to 30 minutes. City leaders welcomed the update, but Highways England warned funding for the project - which would cost more than £1billion - is not guaranteed.

The five proposed routes run through three ‘corridors’, joining the M1 at different spots between Sheffield and Barnsley. The tunnel under the Peak District could be as long as 20 miles - although may be just half that.

The options report said it was ‘reasonable to assume that construction, for any corridor, could take approximately 10 years’. It said it was ‘not possible’ to come up with a figure for the cost, but it was safe to assume it would be ‘well in excess of £1billion’.

The report highlighted several ‘key risks’, such as the fact ‘funding is not guaranteed’, strong objections are expected and the tunnel may not be chosen as a priority by Transport for the North, a group comprising councils and local enterprise partnerships.