New group is told ‘funding will be an issue’ before it has held its first meeting

Bradford Telegraph and Argus: A cycleway tunnel in Bath, which campaigners are hoping to emulate in Queensbury A cycleway tunnel in Bath, which campaigners are hoping to emulate in Queensbury

A new group with a plan to see the partially-flooded Queensbury railway tunnel restored and opened as a cycle route have been warned there is no cash for the scheme – even before their first meeting.

Queensbury Community Heritage and Action Partnership (Q CHAP) wants to see the Victorian tunnel used to create a path for pedestrians and cyclists, among wider plans for the regeneration of the area.

Q CHAP is made up of smaller groups in the area and holds its first meeting on Thursday, May 15, at Holy Trinity Church.

But even before the inaugural session it has emerged funding will be an issue.

The tunnel is the responsibility of the Highways Agency and it is making plans to carry out maintenance work to the structure over the next five years.

Sustrans, the organisation which campaigns for sustainable transport, has also had some involvement.

Q CHAP wants an assurance that whatever maintenance needs to be carried out, nothing would be done to prevent it being used for cyclists.

While the Highways Agency has confirmed it is planning maintenance in the years ahead, a spokesman said: “This work is subject to funding and the ongoing prioritisation of all of our work.

“At this stage, we are unable to confirm the precise nature of this work – parts of the tunnel have been inaccessible for a number of years due to flooding, and would need to be drained before preliminary investigations could be carried out to determine the condition of the tunnel and the level of maintenance work required.

“We hope to begin these investigations during the summer. Until this initial work is complete, we are unable to speculate on the type of work required, the timescales or the likely costs involved. No specific Highways Agency funds have been set aside to accommodate a cycle path.

“However, we are aware that before the Highways Agency took over responsibility for the tunnel, the British Rail Board Residuary Ltd and Sustrans had discussions about Sustrans’ aspirations for the tunnel.

“The Highways Agency’s Historical Railways Estate team has actively maintained that positive relationship with Sustrans since the transfer, and will continue to do so.”

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