Halifax MP Holly Lynch has today (Tuesday) called on the Government to back the campaign to save Queensbury Tunnel and redevelop it as a cycle route.
At a debate on cycling infrastructure and active transport, Ms Lynch spoke directly to the Minister of State for the Department for Transport, Michael Ellis MP, inviting him to visit the tunnel and setting out the merits of the campaign.
Queensbury Tunnel is a disused railway tunnel constructed in 1878 which used to form part of the Halifax to Keighley railway line. It runs for around one-and-a-half miles and was the longest tunnel on the Great Northern Railway.
Local campaigners believe that it could be restored and reopened as part of a regional cycle route, however it is currently slated for abandonment by its custodian, Highways England’s Historical Railways Estate.
Ms Lynch told MPs that it was a ‘tragedy’ that public money was to be spent abandoning the tunnel which she said would ‘provide no local benefit at all’.
By contrast she said that cycling plans put forward by the Queensbury Tunnel Society were ‘transformational’ saying: “Restoring the tunnel with a cycle path running through would place it at the centre of a cycle network connecting Halifax to Bradford and Keighley, boosting sustainable travel. It would add another landmark structure to the Great Northern Railway Trail, making it one of the most spectacular foot and cycle paths anywhere in the country.
“And it would further enhance our area’s cycling credentials giving us the longest continuous incline in England and the longest reused railway tunnel.”
Speaking after the debate she said: “I wanted to use the opportunity of this debate on active transport to highlight to MPs and the Transport Minister the importance of the Queensbury Tunnel scheme.
“This incredible example of Victorian engineering, which is of great pride to the local community, could soon be filled in with concrete, but could be saved if Ministers stepped in.
“I’m hopeful that the Government have heard the strength of the arguments in favour of the scheme and I will continue to pressure Ministers to back the cycle route proposals.”