CAMPAIGNERS hoping to convert a disused railway tunnel into a cycle path say the project would cost £2.81 million, far less than the £35m repair fee stated in a Government report.

A new study by the Queensbury Tunnel Society claims that most of the structure, between Bradford and Halifax, is in a fair condition and can be repaired at a fraction of the cost.

The tunnel is currently being prepared for closure at a cost of around £3m by Highways England.


A report by the Historical Railways Estate (HRE), part of Highways England, was presented to former Transport Minister Robert Goodwill earlier this year and deemed the repairs unaffordable at £35m.

Graeme Bickerdike, who co-ordinated the new study, said: “To the untrained eye, the collapses and the areas around them do look quite dramatic but, to people with a mining background, there are established ways of dealing with them that don’t involve huge costs. I spoke to a number of tunnelling and mining engineers about HRE’s £35m figure and they all regarded it as being off the scale.”

Norah McWilliam, leader of the campaign group, added: “They are proceeding towards abandonment, which involves pouring £3m into a black hole, when there is a better option with a similar price tag that would convert the tunnel from a liability into an asset.

"We will be asking the Minister to halt the process until a proper review has been conducted, based on proper costings, to decide the right way forward for the tunnel, one which offers the best possible outcome for taxpayers.”

A spokesman for Highways England responded: “We remain open to the idea of transferring Queensbury Tunnel to another public body to maintain it. We would also look to offer the new owner the estimated £3m funding we plan to spend on closing it.

"An independent study commissioned by Highways England carried out earlier this year revealed the condition of the tunnel continues to deteriorate and that it would cost an estimated £35 million to make it safe for future use. We intend to begin work on closing the tunnel in the summer of 2017 if a transfer cannot be agreed by that time.”