THREE of the district’s MPs have backed the campaign to keep Queensbury Tunnel unblocked so it can be used for a major cycle route.

Judith Cummins, Naz Shah and Philip Davies went to the north portal of the tunnel yesterday to see for themselves the potential of the site.

Queensbury Tunnel Society is trying to prevent Highways England filling in the Victorian structure, which could cost up to £3.6 million, in order to secure its future as the centrepiece of a cycle path network connecting Halifax to Bradford and Keighley.

Also present at the event were members of the society and Queensbury Queens cycling club.

Judith Cummins (Lab, Bradford South) said she wanted a stop to plans by Department for Transport, which is run by Conservative MP Chris Grayling, to seal it shut.

Instead of sealing it, she is supporting plans for it to be part of a wider cycle path network.

The society estimates that the project could contribute an additional £37.6m to the local economy over the next 30 years.

The majority of the tunnel is in the Bradford South constituency and Ms Cummins said she has been involved with the campaign from the early stages. She said she has demanded answers from Mr Grayling in May 2018 about the DfT’s decision to refuse funding for further investigation.

Following this, the DfT took the decision to begin filling in the tunnel, which would end any chance of it being used to boost the economy of the local area.

She said she challenged the DfT’s decision and wrote to them again in February 2019 to order an immediate stop to their actions, as it would remove any possibility of a link-up between the Queensbury Tunnel Society and the Great Northern Railway Trail.

She said: “The Queensbury Tunnel is a great historical asset, and destroying it now is just a convenient solution for the DfT, which is the typical of failing Grayling’s short termism we have come to expect from his time as Secretary of State for Transport.

“If the tunnel is sealed now, any potential economic benefits from it disappear as well.

“The Queensbury Tunnel Society should be praised for finding a positive use of the tunnel, as part of a cycling and walking trail that will be one of the best in the country, which will provide a long-term boost to the local economies of Queensbury, Bradford, and the wider West Yorkshire area.”

Naz Shah (Lab, Bradford West) said: "It could be something that could be used by people from across the country.

"For it to be recognised as a national cycling route is quite exciting and the cyclists here have told us how they would love to go through it.

"The spirit of what this could do and the potential is quite phenomenal and I think that's why we need to keep the eye on the prize."

Philip Davies (Con, Shipley) also backed the campaign. He said: "It's an amazing feat of engineering.

"It goes to show it would be a disgrace to fill it in so that other people cannot enjoy seeing it.

"It was a huge sacrifice to build it and it would be criminal if future generations couldn't enjoy it as well.

"One it's been made safe surely the priority then should be to make sure people can enjoy it and benefit from it. Making it safe and then filling it in just seems pointless to me."