A railroad historian has discovered an attempt to build a railway tunnel between Ireland and Scotland under the North Sea dating to the 1890s.

The tunnel would have been 20 miles long and was proposed by a well-known engineer in 1890.

The plans are revealed in a new book “Mapping the Railways" by David Spaven.

Spaven is a railroad expert having worked for worked British Rail for 18 years.



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The undersea rail link was proposed by well-respected engineer Luke Livingston Macassey.

Spaven told the BBC: "One of the big surprises was a prospectus for a tunnel under the North Channel between Stranraer and Belfast.

"At first I thought it was a Victorian spoof, but through more research I found the person behind the idea was a competent and well regarded engineer."

The plan was for a rail link using either a tunnel, a submerged "tubular bridge" or a solid causeway.

The engineer at the time stated that the rail connection would greatly increase traffic between Scotland and Ireland and would also help people avoid "the horrors of 20 miles in rough seas".

Spaven said: "There was a short window of opportunity for these railways to be built.”

"After the First World War lorries were more readily available and that closed the window on the light railways."

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