Key debate for campaign to make England's cycle tunnel in Queensbury

Credit: Four by Three
Credit: Four by Three

Councillors are to debate the future of Queensbury tunnel on Tuesday as campaigners press for it to be made into a cycle tunnel.

The Queensbury Tunnel Society (QTS) are pushing for investment that would see the currently derelict former rail line turned into a 1.4 mile cycleway, the longest in England, a campaign at odds with £3m Historical Railway Estate and Department for Transport plans to infill sections of the tunnel for good.

Credit: Four by Three

Credit: Four by Three

The tunnel would act as a link between Halifax and Bradford.

A motion put forward by Conservative Councillor Andrew Senior, who represents Queensbury Ward, will be put to the vote during a meeting of the full Council on Tuesday 16th January. If passed, it will ask Council officials to put the breaks on infilling plans and engage with stakeholders in exploring options for the tunnel.

It also calls on the Chief Executive “to investigate the feasibility of Bradford Council taking ownership of the tunnel so as to secure the option of it being reopened” and for discussions about its future to be facilitated with HRE and the DfT.

Infilling work could begin as early as the summer, despite a 7,000 name ePetition campaigning for the abandonment of the plans. QTS campaigners claim that the £11.6m 30-year cost of fulfilling their ambitions would generate economic, health and tourism benefits totaling £37.6m.

Credit: Four by Three

Credit: Four by Three

Lord Tony Greaves, a Liberal Democrat Peer, has submitted a written parliamentary question asking what discussions the government is having with local authorities and interested parties with a view to completing a cycle route along the former railway between Halifax, Bradford and Keighley, via Queensbury Tunnel.

He has also asked the government to “instruct the Historical Railways Estate not to take any action which would prevent the restoration and use of Queensbury Tunnel for such a purpose until the completion of a full and proper assessment of the tunnel’s condition, economic potential, connectivity challenges and associated asset management issues.”

Lord Greaves, who was born in Bradford and is a keen recreational cyclist, says: “I’m asking the question to try to pin down the government on this matter and to help in the process of persuading them that the creation of a cycleway that uses the tunnel is a sensible, realistic and very desirable way forward.

“I am very impressed with the commitment and professionalism of the Queensbury Tunnel Society and will do what I can to help their campaign.”

Just before Christmas, the QTS say they were assured by a council spokesperson that “Bradford Council will do everything within its means to explore various options to keep the Queensbury Tunnel open as long as, in doing so, it would not be detrimental to the Council.”