HOPES that the future of Queensbury Tunnel can be secured as a cycle and walking route have been buoyed by Bradford Council agreeing to look into its adoption.

The 1.4 mile long Victorian structure was built in the 1870s under the village of Queensbury, but has been derelict since 1956

It has long been an ambition of Queensbury Tunnel Society (QTS) and cycle champions Sustrans to re-open it as an attraction for cyclists and walkers.

The fears are that 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.

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

On the other hand, The QTS has obtained figures and believes the tunnel could repaired for around the same cost.

Moving a motion at Full Council yesterday for the Council to look at adopting the historic site, Councillor Andrew Senior (Cons, Queensbury) said: “It is my view that we are duty bound to explore every avenue to work with the Department of Transport to open up what would possibly be the largest cycle tunnel in Europe.

“it will be a perfect place for walkers, runners, cyclists and a place children can learn to cycle in a safe and welcoming environment.”

Councillor Alun Griffiths (Lib Dem, Idle and Thackley) added that time was critical: “If it gets filled in it is gone for ever,” he said.

Councillor Paul Cromie (Ind, Queensbury) added: “This is a fantastic one-off opportunity. We need to use it before we lose it.”

Cllr Cromie said a Sustrans report highlighted the benefits for the environment and the community and that it could generate £37.6 million from the cycling network with the tunnel as its centrepiece.

Councillor Alex Ross-Shaw portfolio holder for regeneration, planning and transport, said the Council was already in talks with Highways England to see what it could do.

“We are trying to find better estimates of the costs and are having discussions with Highways England to extend the time for their final decision. We want to make sure we have as much time as possible.

“We also want to look at funding. We cannot write a blank cheque for an asset that is not ours.

“There is further investigation work to do but we see there are potential benefits for the district.”

The Council agreed to engage with interested parties and set out its actions in a report to the Council Executive.”