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Tuesday, 15 January 2008

Sheffield Star: Protest over plans for Woodhead tunnel (Richard Marsden)

An article from today's Sheffield Star about last Saturday's demonstration, by Richard Marsden:

One hundred protesters gathered at the end of the Woodhead tunnel to protest at plans to use it for electricity cables - dashing hopes that it could be reopened to trains.

Transport chiefs want to double rail services between Sheffield and Manchester in the next 15 years, meaning the route could be reopened to provide extra rail capacity across the Pennines.

But National Grid, which owns the tunnel, wants to move cables from two neighbouring tunnels, which are starting to collapse.

The protesters, who met at the western end of the tunnel, in the Peak District, are calling on the Government to intervene and block the plans.

Stocksbridge Green Party town councillor Dan Lyons was among the demonstrators.

He said: "Given the imperative of tackling climate change, it is unbelievable the Government is failing to keep the Woodhead option open.

"The Woodhead rail tunnel provides a cheaper and more sustainable alternative to the proposed A628 Mottram-Tintwistle bypass, which will cause major environmental and road safety problems."

The bypass aims to improve the western approach from Manchester to the A628 Woodhead Pass - but it is feared this would lead to tens of thousands more vehicles using the route, which would then thunder through South Yorkshire villages.