Ian Jack (A tunnel linking Scotland and Northern Eire? Myth has changed British modesty, 19 February) discussed “an infinite munitions unload at the seabed” at the direction of the proposed rail tunnel between Scotland and Northern Eire. The unload lies within the Beaufort Dyke, a deep trench within the North Channel. I reported its presence just about 30 years in the past for BBC Information. The Ministry of Defence in the beginning instructed me that it had dumped munitions there because the finish of the second one international warfare, that it knew what they had been and that they totalled round 100,000 tonnes.
Some months later, with British Fuel via then making plans an undersea pipeline there, the MoD rang me with an replace. It were the use of the dyke because the finish of the primary international warfare, it mentioned. It didn’t know what munitions had been down there, however the general used to be about one million tonnes. I’d fancy my probabilities of crossing the North Channel in a tunnel as low as on a bridge.
Atmosphere correspondent, BBC Information, 1987-95
• A tunnel between Galloway and Northern Eire isn’t as ridiculous as Ian Jack suggests. First, the gauge distinction don’t need to be a disadvantage. Thru trains have for many years hooked up France and Spain with a transformation of gauge on the border. 2nd, it’s not London that might ever make this isle’s facet of the case for the tunnel, however Glasgow. Glasgow-Aberdeen is a thriving direction of an identical duration that has no longer carried London site visitors south of Dundee since prior to I used to be born.
The saving of 2 adjustments of delivery mode would develop into Glasgow-Belfast right into a an identical direction, with Ayr serving as Stirling’s counterpart. There may also be in a single day Aberdeen-Dublin trains.
• A tunnel between Northern Eire and Scotland is probably not entire delusion. In accordance with Alpine tunnelling prices, it would value round £30bn – a couple of 3rd of the price of HS2 and a lot better price for cash.
• Ian Jack, in his splendidly elegiac piece about railways within the south of Scotland, refers to The Thirty-9 Steps. He may even have discussed every other novel set in that house the place railways performed a the most important section: The 5 Pink Herrings via Dorothy L Sayers, printed in 1931, the place a lot of the plot hinges on teach instances. As she says within the foreword, “all of the trains are actual trains”, and my reproduction includes a detailed railway map of the ones now unfortunately long-gone traces.
• The Galloway railway line is also deserted and its stations simply recollections, however no longer all its glories are misplaced. My father, a standard passenger at New Galloway station (in the neighborhood claimed for Richard Hannay’s preliminary arrival in Galloway in The Thirty-9 Steps), controlled to safe two of the station lighting fixtures when the road closed. They now shine out over very other landscapes at my sister’s space in Sussex and ours in Devon.
• Ian Jack refers to “a scheme to hyperlink Scotland (or Nice Britain because it nonetheless is) to Northern Eire”. Let me reassure him that, except the SNP has radical plans certainly, Stranraer will proceed to be at the island of Nice Britain for the foreseeable long term. I must upload that I’m very happy to look Ian Jack again within the Parent on Saturdays. I’m hoping he’s right here to stick.