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Thursday, 10 January 2008

Glossop Chronicle: Bypass groups wrangle over Woodhead Tunnel (David Jones)

An article from today's Glossop Chronicle about our demonstration at Woodhead on 12th January, by David Jones:

Can National Grid's plans to push 400,000 volt cables through Woodhead Tunnel be scrapped and track re-opened for freight trains?

The nation's biggest power providers and Longdendale Siege boss Mike Flynn both say no.

But Save the Woodhead Tunnel and other Mottram to Tintwistle Bypass protestors, say yes.

And they are demanding a feasibility study be commissioned to see if the line can be re-opened - before the government spends more than £100m on the relief road. Protestors claim sending trains under the Pennines along the old Manchester to Sheffield line via Dinting and Hadfield will stop thousands of tonnes of CO2 funnelling into the air from bypass traffic.

And on Saturday they will be staging a climate changing demonstration at the Woodhead end of the tunnel from 1 pm to 3 pm.

There will be a samba band to liven things and an array of yet to be announced speakers.

Save the Woodhead Tunnel organisers are asking supporters to go along, either by walking or cycling, to the tunnel mouth along the six mile Longdendale Trail.

Or by car along the A628, turning down the steep approach road to the station.

But they warn that care is needed, the route is tricky and parking is limited.

Mr Flynn believes that however well intentioned some of the protesters are, they will be wasting their time.

He can see no possibility of the tunnel - closed in 1981 and the track bed to Hadfield turned into the Longdendale Trail - ever re-opening.

And he supports the need of the National Grid (sic) to remove their cables from the 'first' Victorian built tunnel which is deteriorating.

The thread them through the 'new' tunnel opened in the 1950s, which would prevent trains from using the tunnel.

"We have heard all the talk about re-opening the tunnel for trains before and it won't happen, it is just not feasible," he said.

"They (anti-bypass groups) talk about building a terminal at Hattersley where lorries can roll on and roll off, there is no chance.

"And if the tunnel did open again for trains, there would still be all that traffic coming through Glossop.

"The people who go on about opening Woodhead, never mention that."

Mr Flynn points to statements from the Government and Network Rail on transport plans covering the next 30 years which show no plans to re-open the tunnel.

He went on: "These people talk about a bypass ripping up the countryside, yet they make no mention of ripping up the Longdendale Trail to re-open the line.

"It's about time these protesters accepted what the vast majority of people in the valley want and that's a Longdendale Bypass and a Glossop Spur."