A campaign to re-open a crumbling rail tunnel for cyclists has stepped up a gear, and hopes that it gets a boost when Yorkshire goes cycle crazy for the Tour De France.
A group of Queensbury residents has banded together calling for the re-opening of the Queensbury Tunnel – a Victorian tunnel between Queensbury and Halifax that is more than one and a half miles long and has been unused for more than half a century.
Stretches of the tunnel are underwater – flooded due to a blockage at one side.
But along with transport charity Sustrans, the group has proposed that the tunnel be re-opened as an underground pedestrian and cycleway – which would be the longest of its kind in Europe and similar to a route in Bath that was opened last year. It would link up with an existing cycling trail.
The group has now created a new website to collect all the details of the campaign so far so people can see all the information about the tunnel at a glance, and drum up support for its re-opening.
And with the Tour De France’s Yorkshire leg fewer than 100 days away there is hope that the spotlight on Yorkshire cycling could help make the plans a reality.
The Highways Agency is responsible for the tunnel, and it has a budget to deal with the structure. Those behind the cycleway scheme are trying to get the agency to use that budget to stabalise and re-open the tunnel, rather than block it up for safety purposes. A decision on its future is expected in the autumn.
A petition submitted to the Government in February already has in excess of 1,000 signatures.
Sustrans believes that a re-opened tunnel could be a huge boost for local tourism, health and provide a link between Halifax and Bradford.
The website says: “Given the significance and scale of Queensbury Tunnel, we believe that a path through it would become a honeypot attraction – as evidenced by the Two Tunnels scheme in Bath – bringing visitors to the area from far afield, as well as opening a strategic corridor which would be used extensively for both leisure and commuting.”
Norah McWilliam, one of the team behind the tunnel proposals, said: “There are a lot of things happening behind the scenes and we’re talking to different people about it at the moment.
“We really hope the Tour De France helps us move things forward.”
The website can be accessed at www.queensburytunnel.org.uk/index.shtml