So you if you thought Boris Johnson’s proposal for a train tunnel between Scotland and NI (aka the Boris Burrow) was crazy, well it would seem they are doubling down. Now they want not one, but 4 tunnels connecting the UK mainland with NI and the Isle of Man.
The longest of these would run from near Liverpool to the northern part of the Isle of Man, a distance of +130 km’s (that’s double the likely distance of a Scotland to NI route and over 2 and a half times longer than the world’s current longest tunnel). Straight away, this tells me that nobody who knows the slightest thing about engineering could be involved in this project.
Generally with tunnels the longer you want to build them, or the deeper under water you want to go, the harder it gets. You have to be able to maintain a water tight seal to resist the hydrostatic pressure of the water above. You need to have the right kind of rock to drill through (the channel tunnel was only able to be built because there was a layer of rock through which a water tight tunnel could be easily drilled through). The tunnel needs to be maintained at a suitable slope such that trains can easily ascend and descend. And you need to be able to circulate air into the tunnel and pump any water out. And the further you are from shore and the deeper you go the harder this pumping process gets.
Quite simply put, even with an unlimited budget and an unlimited amount of time (again it took decades to build much smaller tunnels) it might be impossible to build such a tunnel. Not least because a lot will depend on the geology of the Irish sea. I don’t know, maybe Boris thinks the fictional Island of Sodor from Thomas the Tank engine is real and he can just build the line across it.
As a quick aside, you may ask, why does it have to be a rail tunnel? Well because a road tunnel will need to be much bigger (to accommodate several lanes of traffic), you’ll have to supply air, not just for the people, but also the vehicle engines and pump out exhaust gases (trains can run on electricity). And to be blunt, trains are driven by professional drivers who are less likely to have an accident. As rescuing people from such a deep and remote location under the sea is going to be difficult at the best of times.
fat controller Boris big idea is to have a big roundabout tunnel under the Isle of Man linking everything together. Of course what he’s actually going to need is a series of vast marshalling yards. Go to google earth and look up the town of Ventimiglia in Italy (see below), you’ll notice the entire north end of the town of just 50,000 is dominated by a vast area of railway marshalling yards covering the entire north end of the town, of which only a small fraction is currently in use (with an even larger set of marshalling yards a few km’s to the North west). Why? Well because its on the Italian/French border. And before the EU’s single market came along every train passing between the two countries had to stop. All the passengers had to be offloaded and stamped out of one country and stamped into the other and customs inspections plus checks had to be undertaken.
Similarly, as NI is now a separate customs area to the UK, you’d have to stop and check every single train passing through. Quite apart from the break of gauge issues I mentioned before (as the UK uses standard gauge while the Ireland uses broad gauge). And, as the Isle of Man is also a separate customs area to the other two, you’d have to have a separate area to check goods and people in and out of the Isle of Man. Oh and speaking of breaks of gauge, the Isle of Man’s railway network is mostly narrow gauge. So you’re now linking together 3 incompatible railway systems.
For some strange reason there’s another tunnel leading to Scotland. And why would someone use this tunnel to get to Scotland when there’s a perfectly good road (the M6) and railway line running along side it that goes directly to the central belt? Furthermore, in the timescales for construction of this tunnel, Scotland might get independence. So you’d then need another large marshalling yard to check good into and out of Scotland. You’re going to be digging up half the Isle of Man and covering it with railway yards!
So why is such a crazy proposal being pursued? Well not because they actually plan on building anything (no doubt some Tory consultant will get a contract to waste a few million to prove the viability of the project). No, as always, Boris Johnson’s goal is to control the narrative. With the help of his media allies he aims to gaslight the public with propaganda and lies.
For example, the UK is on top for vaccinations you have likely been told. Well firstly that is largely down to the NHS (which the Tories want to sell off) not anything the government’s done. The only contribution to the vaccine made by the Tories was to try and insist on putting a union jack on the labels. Secondly, no, the UK is pretty high up the list but not on top, as the UK government is only issuing a single dose (then counting that as someone has been vaccinated) while most most other countries say you have to have the 2 doses within 4 weeks to count. And inevitably this means the UK is now slipping behind other countries.
Similarly we have the situation in NI where the DUP, aka the old testament with weekly bin collections, campaigned for brexit and are now upset with the consequences. Arlene Foster (who always seems to look like someone whose just swallowed a bee), back in December was touting the benefits of NI staying in the single market. Now they (with a little help from Kate Hoey, aka the Corbyn ally who pretends to be a labour supporter when she’s really a UKIP 5th columnist) are launching legal action, trying to have the NI protocol scrapped, even thought they know this would lead to a hard border with the rest of Ireland and likely a break down of the GFA.
Like the Tories, the DUP’s entire political position is based on lies and fantasy. They believe that they can have all the benefits of staying in the EU, without suffering any of the consequences of leaving, while ignoring the impossible trinity of brexit (CCP Grey has a good video on this here). And far from being worried about destroying the GFA, that’s their ultimate fantasy. They never wanted it in the first place and signed up to it only halfheartedly (Ian Paisley was famously known as Dr No for his tendency to say no, no, never… then maybe).
This was the problem with the GFA. The treaty was mostly negotiated by the moderates (John Hume of the SDLP and David Trimble of the UUP), with SF and the DUP (the political fronts for the terrorists) only supporting it because they’d have gotten frozen out of the political process if they hadn’t (and then likely all gotten arrested and sent to some US supermax prison). It should have been a condition of the Irish, British and the US that anyone who’d be previously involved in terrorism should stay out of politics (which still applies to quite a number of the front bench in SF and the DUP to this day).
Unfortunately, they naively assumed that the SDLP & UUP would take power…which ignores how elections work, how tribal the two communities are in NI and how populists can win by making outlandish promises they never keep. Consequently SF and the DUP have pretty much run NI into the ground, using Stormont as means to settle petty scores against one another while engaging in various money burning parties as they squander public money. NI receives far more tax payers money per head of population than any region of the UK, yet its GDP (per capita) is 80% that of the UK average and less than half that of the Irish republic.
And the situation in NI should serve as a warning for how the Tories policy, of basically running the country as a Chumacracy, could have serious long term consequences. The point is that this tunnel project shows that all the Tories have are their lies and empty promises. The UK has become a country where brexit is now the state the religion, ignorance is considered an asset and the truth is seen by the government as a threat.