A campaign to transform a derelict railway tunnel in Queensbury into one of Europe’s biggest cycle tunnels has surfaced at the doors of the Government.
The e-petition was created by a local heritage group on Friday, and lodged with the Government’s Department for Transport. Despite being active for just a few days, it already has more than 400 signatures.
The mile and a half long Queensbury Tunnel was built in the 1880s as part of the Great Northern Railway Trail that linked Bradford, Halifax and Keighley, but was shut in the 1960s.
Since 2005, much of the line between Queensbury and Cullingworth has been transformed into a bike trail by sustainable transport group Sustrans. Their eventual goal is to create a traffic-free cycle link between Halifax and Bradford – through the tunnel.
In recent weeks there has been a push for more groups to get on board, with local MP Gerry Sutcliffe meeting with representatives from Bradford and Calderdale councils to try to get them to back the idea.
The tunnel is owned and operated by the Highways Agency, and although it has a budget to deal with the crumbling Victorian structure, some residents fear it may take the easy way out and fill the tunnel, rather than restore it.
Stretches of the tunnel are currently underwater – flooded due to a blockage at one side.
Campaigner Norah McWilliam has now submitted a petition for the Highways Agency to leave the tunnel open – giving Sustrans the option of refurbishing it. Last year Sustrans re-opened similar tunnels in Bath and Dewsbury.
Her petition says: “This magnificent piece of our industrial heritage will be a major attraction for visitors to Bradford and Halifax. We are not asking the Highways Agency to build the cycle route – just to keep the option open.”
Campaigners and representatives of Sustrans will meet with officers from Bradford Council tomorrow to discuss the proposals.
The petition can be found at www.epetitions.direct.gov.uk/petitions/59903