AN MP has called on Transport Secretary Chris Grayling to release more funding so a proper assessment of the future of a disused rail tunnel can be made.

The Queensbury Tunnel Society (QTS) wants to see the 1.4-mile long tunnel transformed into a cycle path and has fought to halt the plans of Highways England Historical Railways Estate (HRE) - which acts as the custodian of the disused railway on behalf of the Department for Transport - to abandon the structure.

The society says this would involve infilling it with concrete in a project which would cost around £3million. But for the society’s cycle path proposal to go ahead, Bradford Council would have to take on its ownership, an option which is currently being investigated.

In a letter to Mr Grayling, Bradford South MP Cummins said: "I am writing to raise my concerns regarding a recent decision taken by your department to refuse funding to the Phase Two of investigatory works into the sustainability of Queensbury Tunnel. Phase One investigatory works done by AECOM suggest that either restoring or filling in the tunnel would cost in excess of the £3 million budget that Highways England Historical Railways Estate (HRE) currently has and therefore any decision to either restore or abandon the tunnel requires that full investigatory works are completed."

It adds: “Given its potential value as an asset for the district, my position is that the future of Queensbury Tunnel must be made on the basis of robust evidence and not on a rush to find a convenient solution for the HRE.”

Speaking afterwards, she said: “If either option is going to cost more than £3 million anyway, then it seems like a wasted opportunity for the Government not to do that little bit extra so we fully understand what the options for the tunnel are.

“Restoring the tunnel would be a big undertaking but there is also a huge opportunity here - the potential benefits to Bradford are absolutely clear.

“While we’ve still got the chance, let’s not throw away the opportunity to know the full facts. If we allow sufficient time and funding for further investigations, a properly informed decision can be made.”

A Bradford Council spokesperson said it is "vital" that every opportunity is given to restore the tunnel.

They said: "We’re doing everything we can with our current resources, however, a little more funding from Highways England would allow us to get a clearer picture of the costs of restoring or safely sealing up the tunnel. We believe both options are likely to cost more than Highways England’s estimates, so the more information we can gather the better it will be for everyone.”

A dispute is currently rumbling on regarding the lease of land on which pumping equipment stands, which campaigners say could potentially have an impact on the schedule of work to abandon the tunnel.

Norah McWilliam, from QTS, says the HRE's abandonment plan for the tunnel is an "unacceptable use" of public money.

A spokesperson for the Department for Transport confirmed the letter had been received and said a response will be given in due course.

A spokesperson for Highways England said: “Unless major work is carried out on Queensbury Tunnel the level of safety risk to the community increases. Due to the deteriorating poor condition of the tunnel action now needs to be taken.

“We agreed in December 2016 to contribute funds to Bradford Council to undertake their own study into the tunnel’s condition and its potential to be reopened as part of a cycling and walking route. We have been clear on our decision, backed by the Department of Transport, to close the tunnel in order to protect the community and of our intention to start the safety work in September 2018, subject to securing planning permission.”