'URBAN explorers' have been condemned for compromising safety after entering the old Queensbury Tunnel and capturing these striking images.

The Queensbury Tunnel Society (QTS) and its supporters are embroiled in a long-running battle to save the disused railway tunnel and released the photographs in a bid to show the extent of the work carried out.

But Highways England has said it, and owners the Department for Transport, do not welcome "any further trespass".

QTS has been galvanising support for its plan to re-open the 1.4-mile long tunnel as the “jewel” in a multi-million pound Bradford-Halifax Greenway. An advocacy document released earlier this year outlined the level of funding required comes to £23.3 million.


In recent years the tunnel has been in the headlines because of plans by Highways England’s Historic Railway Estates to fill in the tunnel, which it says has received the highest risk ranking since September 2013.

The society say these photographs were taken by a pair of urban explorers who entered the tunnel during a two-week period when it was left unlocked and unattended for between half-an-hour and 90 minutes most evenings.

Graeme Bickerdike, Engineering Co-ordinator for QTS, said: “The work carried out so far is not detrimental to the greenway proposal and would reduce the time, effort, risk and cost of a refurbishment scheme for that purpose.”

Norah McWilliam, QTS leader, added: “The costs of abandonment and repair are converging on an almost-daily basis due to significant project management shortcomings around the preparatory works. They were meant to take three months, but their first anniversary passed last week.

“Not only does abandonment deliver no public benefit, it compromises the ability of future generations to meet their own needs - the overarching objective of national planning policies. We’re grateful for the insight provided by the urban explorers who have shown the extent of the works already completed to improve the tunnel’s condition. It would be a travesty if the £3 million spent so far was wasted by frittering away another £3 million - probably more - putting Queensbury Tunnel permanently beyond use.”

To date, Highways England’s planning application has attracted more than 4,100 objections, whilst 12,000 people have signed an online petition supporting its reuse.

A decision is expected to be made in the coming months.

A spokesperson for Highways England said: “Highways England and the Department for Transport, the owners of the tunnel, don’t welcome this trespass into what is a dangerous environment and a construction site. The actions of the urban explorers compromised their own safety, and potentially compromised the safety of our contractors.

“We discourage any further trespass into the tunnel. Despite the photographs depicting apparent safe conditions, the reactivation of the constructed culvert at Strines Beck over the weekend of September 28 and 29 has resulted in the tunnel being flooded to unprecedented levels. The southern section of the tunnel is once again inaccessible to our contractors.”