School pupils were yesterday given the honour of opening the latest section of the Great Northern Railway Trail.

Children at Thornton, Russell Hall and Shibden Head primary schools cut the ribbon at the ceremony, unveiling the new segment of track between Headley Lane and Cockin Lane.

The trail completes the link-up between Thornton and Queensbury along the old Bradford-Keighley railway line.

Thornton Primary School student Ibrahim Butt, eight, was one of the nominated pupils who cut the ribbon.

He said: “The trail is very big, very educational and lots of people like to go through it.

“It was amazing to cut the ribbon and I think this trail will be very good for people.”

Great Northern Railway Trail Forum chairman, Jeff McQuillan said: “There is now greater opportunity for people to access the countryside and enjoy its wildlife and serenity.

“It’s been a really awesome afternoon. The weather was great and we could see from the trail right into Bradford city centre.”

The trail is being constructed by Sustrans, a charity which encourages sustainable transport in the UK.

Sustrans was established in 1977, and is working with Bradford Council to create a traffic-free route between Cullingworth and Queensbury for walkers, cyclists and horse riders.

It also hopes to expand the route into Keighley and Bradford to connect to the National Cycle Network, which it has been developing since 1995.

David Hall, Sustrans’ Yorkshire regional director, said: “We hope many more people will benefit from the opportunity to walk and cycle between the two townships.”

The Bradford-Keighley line, nicknamed the “Alpine Route” by locomotive crews, took eight years to build and was completed in 1884. Mile for mile, it was the most heavily engineered railway line in West Yorkshire.

The name “Alpine Route” came from the line’s terrain, characterised by deep cuttings, high embankments and tunnels.

The route stopped taking passengers in 1955, but goods were still transported along it in the 1960s.

Councillor Paul Cromie (Ind, Queensbury) said: “It’s been a fantastic day and the support has been tremendous.

“I will definitely be using the trail, I do already, but now I can go all the way through.”