Channel Islands to France tunnel would ‘cost £5.6bn’

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A rail tunnel between Guernsey and France via Jersey would cost around £5.6bn and take up to 10 years to build, according to a tunnelling engineer.

The idea of a rail link is being driven by local entrepreneur and former Guernsey Chamber of Commerce president Martyn Dorey. Dorey took inspiration from the tunnels that link the Faroe Islands and has claimed that such a fixed connection could help the Channel Islands double their GDP in a decade.

Ramboll head of tunnels Stephen Witham said that the governments of both Guernsey and Jersey have resolved to support the exploration of the idea, though they have so far said this would be funded privately, with Ramboll providing technical input.

Witham’s proposals connect Guernsey and Jersey in one phase, with a second phase continuing the connection to Normandy.

The consultant said that his initial findings, produced after two years of work, have shown that a 28-kilometre rail tunnel connecting Guernsey and Jersey will cost around £2.6bn. A bridge between the islands is “physically impossible”, he added, because the excessive water depth meant that foundations would be too expensive.

A second phase, consisting of a 32-kilometre rail tunnel from Jersey to France, will cost around £3bn, according to Witham. The consultant estimates that the rail journey on both stretches will be around 15 minutes. Since the water between Jersey and France is shallower, a bridge for this section would be a possibility, though he estimated it would be more expensive at £3.5bn.

Witham said that he was in the closing stages of reaching a deal with a consortium of private sector investors to fund full feasibility studies for the project, adding that Jersey is “very keen on pursuing this as a post-Brexit option for the country’s development”.

Source: Construction News