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This in-depth, evidence-based assessment concluded that cutting-edge 21st century civil engineering technology could build a bridge or tunnel between Britain and Northern Ireland. A crossing bridge, however, would be the longest span bridge built to date. A tunnel would be the longest underwater tunnel ever built considering the limited slopes on which trains can travel, the route it should take and the depths it should reach. In addition, based on today’s technology and safety considerations, a tunnel passage could only be built for rail use …

The consequence of these parameters for a tunnel or a bridge is that they are expensive. The indicative cost estimate for the entire route, including the optimism bias (at P95), is £ 335bn for a bridge crossing and £ 209bn for a tunnel crossing. The bridge or tunnel and the associated very important works on either side for a railway line and possibly for roads would take a long time. Planning, design, parliamentary and legal processes and construction would take almost 30 years before the passage becomes operational, even if funding and authorization to proceed were smooth.

While the economic and social effects would be transformational, the costs would be impossible to justify, given the government’s already very strong commitment to long-term improvement in transport infrastructure for the upgrade, and the likely additional spending that would result from additional studies that I am suggesting in my main UCR report.

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