Victorian plans for rail travel between Scotland and Ireland unearthed

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Engineers planned for a tunnel to take trains to Ireland

VICTORIAN engineers planned to build a train tunnel to link Scotland and Ireland, it has been revealed.

The ambitious 1890 scheme was uncovered by an Edinburgh author as he researched for a new book.

Seven options were considered to span the 21 mile stretch of water, including three routes from Stranraer and a causeway from Kintyre.

However the plans, which would have cost up to £16 million, or £1.5 billion today, were shelved due to lack of government funding.

David Spaven, author of Mapping the Railways, with Julian Holland, found the plans in the National Library of Scotland.

He said: ” I have been interested in railways since childhood but I was amazed because I’ve never heard of this scheme before.

“It’s hard to put yourself in the position of Victorian and Edwardian  railway engineers, who had a monopoly on land transport and probably thought the sky was the limit.

Pessimistic conclusion

“But looking back at the project now , it was probably just a dream. The volume of traffic would have struggled to justify the capital cost, which was the pessimistic conclusion at the time. The line would have been on a wholly different magnitude than anything attempted elsewhere in Britain.”

While the 1890 project may have failed, four years ago suggestions were made for a new train link to allow Ireland to join the European high-speed rail network.

But critics say the 1000ft deep Beaufort’s Dyke trench could pose problems.

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