Why was the Mersey Railway Tunnel built?
Opened in 1886 the Mersey Railway Tunnel was the first tunnel to be built below the River Mersey. It was designed to improve transport links between Liverpool and the developing town of Birkenhead and the Wirral peninsula across the River Mersey. Earlier suggestions to build a road tunnel and a bridge had both been unsuccessful and the first road tunnel beneath the Mersey was not opened until 1934.
Earlier proposals for a railway tunnel were also unsuccessful. An 1866 Act of Parliament authorised a pneumatic (air driven) railway beneath the River Mersey but this was not built owing to the limitations of the available technology. Before the Mersey Railway Tunnel was opened ferries were the only means of crossing the River Mersey between Liverpool and Birkenhead. Despite some difficulties the Mersey Railway Tunnel was a great success and remains in use to this day.
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