A film has been released of a computer-generated bike ride through Queensbury Tunnel which is the focus of a campaign to reopen it as a cycle path.
Lasting six minutes, the trip offers a sense of what the former railway structure would look and feel like if the repair programme developed last year by the Queensbury Tunnel Society was implemented.
As things stand, work to abandon the 1.4-mile long tunnel - parts of which are in poor condition - could begin next summer.
This is likely to involve inserting concrete plugs in both entrances and backfilling its ventilation shafts.
Highways England’s Historical Railways Estate, the tunnel’s current custodian, would carry out the work at an estimated cost of £3 million, using funds from the taxpayer.
The Society believes that this money would be better invested in a remediation scheme, converting the structure into an asset which could form part of a future cycle path network connecting Halifax to Bradford and Keighley.
Norah McWilliam, who leads the Queensbury Tunnel Society, said: “For the past three years we’ve been promoting a vision of what the tunnel could be like if restored, but without people really being able to visualise it. “Now they can. They get a real appreciation of the tunnel’s length, see the shafts and refuges, gauge the extent of the repair work and its impact on the original structure.
“They can also understand the tunnel’s potential as a space, perhaps as the world’s longest sculpture park!
“Sadly the current direction of travel is towards abandonment.
“We believe that’s the wrong direction because it involves wasting £3 million of public money. Nobody gets any value from it.
“What we are offering is a positive picture of what that money can do. Economically, the tunnel could help to revitalise the district’s fortunes, without even considering the health, leisure and connectivity benefits that would come with a cycle path network.”
“We urge Bradford Council to seize this opportunity. If it’s serious in its stated ambition to make cycling ‘a natural part of everyone’s daily life’, high-quality infrastructure has to be provided to get people off the roads.
“We will work constructively and collaboratively with the Council in achieving that goal. This film is a clear demonstration of the time and energy we’re ready to invest.”
Development of the film involved building a 3D model of Queensbury Tunnel, accurately to scale, and then plotting a course through it at a realistic pace for a cyclist.
To create the final version, more than 9,000 images then had to be rendered, each one taking between four and ten minutes.
All the tunnel’s main features are shown over the course of the journey, including its five ventilation shafts, two sets of steel arches and an old track panel left by the salvage crew in 1963.