Motorists back new Peak District tunnel plan to improve city links

The notorious Mottram bootleneck on the Sheffield Manchester route which is to be bypassed
The notorious Mottram bootleneck on the Sheffield Manchester route which is to be bypassed

Motorists have backed new plans to speed up travel between Sheffield and Manchester with new road links - including a possible tunnel under the Peak District.

Motorists have tentatively backed new plans to speed up travel between Sheffield and Manchester - including the possibility of a tunnel under the Peak District.

A feasibility study into the £6bn tunnel proposal has been announced, while work on the A57 and A628 is to include a bypass where the roads meet near Manchester.

However questions about the high cost of the scheme, and whether it will ever come to fruition, have been raised.

Rob Prior, of the former Sheffield Motorists Forum, said: “I think we do need to look at trains through the Peak District as well as roads.

“It is going to be, probably unfeasibly expensive, to build a tunnel but somebody needs to make that decision at some point.

“There needs to be better road links and going up the M1 and M6 is not a good way.”

Other motorists said improving links between the two cities was overdue.

Star reader Daniel Neil said: “To drive 49 miles from Sheffield to Manchester takes up to three hours in rush hour traffic, a better link has been needed for years.”

But Sarah Walters added: “The money would be better invested in re-opening the Woodhead railway line as a high speed city link.”

The tunnel would be one of the longest in Europe.

Improvements to transpennine capacity from Manchester to Sheffield are also included in a package announced by Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg.

But Shadow transport secretary Michael Dugher, Labour MP for Barnsley East, said road investment had been slashed.

He added: “If ministers were as good at upgrading roads as they are at making announcements about it, life would be considerably easier for Britain’s hard-pressed motorists.”

Hillsborough and Brightside MP David Blunkett said it would be more reassuring if the Government had announced a ‘clear commitment’ rather than just making ‘promises’.

He added: “It’s difficult to count how many times the coalition Government have announced the same pot of money and promises of road upgrading that never materialise.”

Uniting northern cities so they can compete with the south and globally is the aim of several recent initiatives.

Sheffield Hallam MP Mr Clegg said the tunnel would relieve pressure on the M1 and M62 and take freight traffic out of the park.

He added:“L​ocal leaders, residents and businesses have been complaining about ​these ancient roads in the north ​for decades, and for good reason.

“The plans will ease congestion and ensure traffic can travel efficiently across the trans-Pennine route, which has been in great need of modernisation.”

Sheffield Chamber of Commerce’s transport forum also ‘welcomed’ the roads plans.