THE group fighting to save a disused railway tunnel and transform it into a cycle route say fresh investigations should reveal a “sharper picture” of the repairs and costs needed to revive it.

The Queensbury Tunnel Society fears Highways England’s Historical Railways Estate (HRE) - which acts as the custodian of the disused railway on behalf of the Department for Transport - could begin work to abandon the 1.4-mile long structure next year.

It says this would involve infilling it with concrete in a project which would cost around £3 million.

But for the society’s cycle path proposal to go ahead, Bradford Council would have to take on its ownership, with the £3 million transferred to cover future maintenance work.

There is a huge disparity between estimates for repairs needed to make the tunnel fit for public use. While HRE’s consultants put the cost at more than £35 million, engineers acting for Queensbury Tunnel Society visited the tunnel and developed a 44-week programme of works for £2.8 million. The new investigations will be funded by HRE and the cost deducted from the £3 million if the transfer goes ahead.

The scope of the works will be defined by the Council, which will appoint a company to undertake them.

Graeme Bickerdike, who co-ordinates the Tunnel Society’s engineering activities, said: “We anticipate the upcoming work will involve a tactile examination of the tunnel’s lining and intrusive investigations to understand the loads being applied to it. This should reveal a sharper picture of the necessary repairs and associated costs, enabling the Council to reach a robust, informed and confident decision.”

As part of its campaign to bring the tunnel back into use, the society has created a three-minute film capturing its aspiration for a cycle path network linking Bradford, Halifax and Keighley, with the tunnel as its ‘centrepiece’.

A Council spokesperson said it was committed to the improvement of cycling infrastructure in the district and it was important to get a “true understanding” of the costs before any decision on the tunnel can be made.