THE Conservative group on Bradford Council has thrown its weight behind a campaign to revive a disused railway tunnel.

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 this summer.

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.

Councillor Andrew Senior, Conservative councillor for Queensbury, said he is against plans to permanently close the tunnel, which he believes could both motivate people to stay fit and healthy, whilst drawing in tourists and benefitting the local economy,

He said: “It could provide the venue for a beautiful walk or cycle ride, even in inclement weather, allowing people to keep fit, even on the worst of days – it would be better than staying indoors due to rain or wind. The tunnel could offer a unique amenity and I am confident that it would appeal to many, many people from near and afar. I hope that my colleagues across the Council Chamber will back my motion supporting utilising the tunnel and then work alongside me and anyone else who is interested to see this happen.”

A Highways England spokesperson said: “We remain fully open to the idea of transferring ownership of Queensbury Tunnel to another public body. We would also look to offer the new owner the estimated £3 million funding we would need to spend on closing the tunnel."

They added that if a transfer opportunity couldn't be found, then work to begin closing the tunnel would begin this summer.

Councillor Alex Ross-Shaw, Bradford Council's Executive Member for Regeneration, Planning and Transport, said: "We’ll consider Councillor Senior’s motion on the Queensbury Tunnel and indeed are already doing much of what it asks.

"We’re working to identify accurate costs to transform it but these costs would also need to be sustainably funded. We appreciate the passion and commitment of the groups who want to see the tunnel re-opened as a cycleway and we hope to be in a better position later this year to understand what would be involved financially in re-opening the tunnel.”