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Ministers asked to back tunnel train link to Guernsey

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MINISTERS are to be asked to back ambitious proposals to create a tunnel train link between Jersey, Guernsey and France.

Guernsey in the distance Picture: INGRID BIHET. (27015277)

A group of Guernsey business leaders spearheading plans for a 15-minute rail service from St Peter Port to St Helier are due to pitch their ideas to the Council of Ministers next month.

They want the politicians, and their counterparts in Guernsey, to formally show support for a tunnel, which, they say, could eventually be extended to France.

A tunnel or bridge between the islands and mainland Europe has long been discussed but the costs involved have seen it confined to the concept stage.

During a recent meeting of Guernsey’s Institute of Directors, the island’s former Chamber of Commerce president Martyn Dorey made a plea for businesses and the two governments to back the scheme.

He said that such a connection could ultimately boost economic growth while addressing the ‘existential’ challenge of an ageing population, with its resultant impact on tax take and public spending.

Mr Dorey said the group’s next step was to secure funding for a ‘full blown’ feasibility study, but it was essential they first won over businesses and politicians.

‘We’ve got to convince you guys. We’re all responsible for the next steps, it’s not just us. If you think this is a great idea, if you want to reduce tax from growing GDP, we need you not to be quiet about this,’ he said in a speech during the IoD event.

‘We need you to spread the word that this isn’t a dumb idea. It’s physically possible. It’s probably more financially possible than we’ve assumed in our assumptions.

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‘We need you to persuade government to support this. We’re not going to get any funding without government guarantee. That’s a fact. No one in infrastructure at the moment is raising funds without government guarantees.

‘So our next step is to persuade governments both in Guernsey and Jersey,’ he added.

He told the event that the project team was due to speak to Jersey’s Council of Ministers on 12 February.

As reported last week, international engineering firm Ramboll has assessed the proposals, and concluded that an initial tunnel between Jersey and Guernsey could be constructed over ten years at an estimated cost of about £2.6 billion.

‘My concern is that Jersey will go ‘‘stuff it, stuff Guernsey let’s make this happen. Let’s connect to France. We’ll make the French work for us’’,’ he said.

‘This is going to add about a half a billion a year to the La Manche peninsula economically. So France will want this, Jersey will want this. Do you want to be left behind? Do you want to be isolated? No, nor do I. So we all have to take responsibility for making this happen. There needs to be funding for a full blown feasibility study.’

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