A CAMPAIGN to turn a derelict railway tunnel in Queensbury into a cycleway has been boosted after an engineer said the project was viable.

The inspection report, conducted on behalf of sustainable transport group Sustrans on the mile and a half long tunnel, addressed costs, repairs and ownership, and concluded that the scheme could be done.

Lead campaigner Norah McWilliam, who submitted a petition to tunnel owners the Highways Agency last year, was delighted with the findings of the report.

She said: "Sustrans sent in an engineer and in his opinion it is do-able. There is lots to sort out. There is a big difference in cost for repairs that need to be done and the cost for repairs needed for public use."

She added: "It is a big step. The engineer's opinion is quite influential."

On the tunnel, Mrs McWilliam, who is chairman of Queensbury Community Heritage and Action Partnership, said: "It is a fantastic piece of engineering. We want to preserve it. It is a Yorkshire and Queensbury asset.

"It would be one of the longest cycleways in Europe and it would be fantastic.

"The gradient is very gentle, it is about 1/100. And it would take out the big hill from Holmfield to Queensbury. It would be a natural route for commuters and for leisure.

"And, going through a tunnel will be very exciting for children!"

The tunnel was built in the 1880s as part of the Great Northern Railway Trail that linked Bradford, Halifax and Keighley, but was shut in the 1960s.

Since 2005, much of the line between Queensbury and Cullingworth has been transformed into a bike trail by Sustrans. Their eventual goal is to create a traffic-free cycle link between Halifax and Bradford – through the tunnel.

The tunnel is owned and operated by the Highways Agency, and some residents fear it may take the easy way out and fill the tunnel, rather than restore it.

It has been drained of water that flooded it last year.

Mrs McWilliam said: "Highways England have got to do repairs but their cheaper option is to do it in a way that blocks the tunnel. We are asking them to not do it in that way and allow Sustrans to come and turn it into a cycle tunnel.

"The cost is the next big thing."

The report said the tunnel was in need of some "considerable repair" if it was to be used as a cycleway, including areas of collapse and bulging walls.

It its conclusions, the report said: "The tunnel is capable of being restored to permit a cycleway to be constructed.

"Costs are likely to be very significant over and above those associated with abandoning the tunnel. The magnitude of these costs will be identified in the forthcoming Jacobs' report.

"Ownership of the tunnel, if it were to be used as a cycleway, will need to be addressed."

A spokesman for Highways England said: "There is nothing for us to say at this stage. We are waiting for the next report on costs to come out at the end of September, then we will comment on that."