Heriot-Watt team plan ‘floating’ Irish Sea tunnel

17 December 2020

A team from Edinburgh’s Heriot-Watt University has proposed a floating underwater tunnel in place of a bridge between Scotland and Northern Ireland.

Plans for the ‘submerged floating-tube bridge’ (SFTB) involve a tunnel suspended from pontoons and anchored to the sea bed. Requiring less structural engineering than a bridge, the concept is reported to be up to £16bn less costly than Boris Johnson’s early ideas for a bridge between the two countries.

The proposed SFTB route would be between Portpatrick, Scotland to a location near Larne in Northern Ireland. The plan proposes either a straight drive-through option or a Eurostar-style car shuttle service. Irrespective of the travel mode, it is estimated the crossing would take around 40 mins, in contrast to the current two-and-a-half hours using the ferry service.

An independent review of UK transport infrastructure led by Network Rail chair Sir Peter Hendy is currently underway to look into the feasibility of a fixed link between Scotland and Northern Ireland. Its recommendations will be published in 2021.