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Tuesday, 11 March 2008

Sheffield Star: MP Angela Smith calls to preserve tunnel

An article from today's Sheffield Star on the Adjournment Debate about Woodhead in the Houses of Parliament today, by Mark Hookham:

Minister will today come under renewed pressure to retain the threatened Woodhead Tunnel for future rail development.

Hillsborough MP Angela Smith will use a 30 minute debate in Westminster Hall - the second Commons debating chamber - to urge the Government to preserve the main tunnel for transport.

Ms Smith will say the tunnel should be used as part of a new high-speed Pennine rail route. She will argue such a route is urgently needed to tackle road congestion within the Sheffield, Leeds and Manchester "triangle".

And she will say better rail infrastructure is needed to connect the east coast ports with Yorkshire, the North West and South.

She will say most key routes are currently north-south but a new high speed east-west rail route is needed to boost trade at the port of Immingham, the deepest port in the UK. This would improve prosperity across the north of England, she will argue.

Speaking before the debate she said: "It's critically important we make the case at every opportunity for reducing congestion on our roads if we are to see the North compete in a very competitive world market. The building of a new high speed rail link will help this.

"A new link would also provide a much more environ-mentally friendly mode of communication for the north."

Ms Smith has spearheaded a parliamentary campaign against plans to run electricity cables through the main Woodhead tunnel, built in 1953 but disused since 1981.

Many campaigners also believe the Woodhead Tunnel would provide a cheaper and more sustainable alternative to the proposed A628 Mottram-Tintwistle bypass.