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Owners want to abandon the tunnel - but cycle groups say it could be centrepiece of cycle network

Campaigners have released a film of what a cycle path running through a disused tunnel could be like, as they push for a network connecting Halifax to Bradford and Keighley.

The Queensbury Tunnel Society want to re-open the tunnel as a cycle path - in direct opposition to plans by Highways England’s Historical Railways Estate.

The Historical Railways Estate, which currently has custody of the tunnel, wants to spend £3m making the unsafe tunnel officially abandoned.

Work would include inserting concrete plugs in both entrances and backfilling its ventilation shafts.

But the Queensbury Tunnel Society says the 1.4 mile tunnel could be restored and become an asset to the community.

Lasting six minutes, the film offers a sense of what the former railway structure would look and feel like if the repair programme was implemented.

Development of the film involved building a 3D model of Queensbury Tunnel, accurately to scale, and then plotting a course through it at a realistic pace for a cyclist. To create the final version, more than 9,000 images then had to be rendered, each one taking between four and ten minutes.

All the tunnel’s main features are shown over the course of the journey, including its five ventilation shafts, two sets of steel arches and an old track panel left by the salvage crew in 1963. Restored to its former position is a gong which was part of the railway’s signalling equipment.

Each of the Society’s proposed repairs is indicated; amongst these are two in-situ concrete arches where partial collapses have occurred. And below No.2 shaft is an art installation powered by the huge volume of water that pours down it.

Norah McWilliam, who leads the Queensbury Tunnel Society, said: “For the past three years we’ve been promoting a vision of what the tunnel could be like if restored, but without people really being able to visualise it. Now they can. They get a real appreciation of the tunnel’s length, see the shafts and refuges, gauge the extent of the repair work and its impact on the original structure. They can also understand the tunnel’s potential as a space, perhaps as the world’s longest sculpture park!

“Sadly the current direction of travel is towards abandonment. We believe that’s the wrong direction because it involves wasting £3 million of public money. Nobody gets any value from it. What we are offering is a positive picture of what that money can do. Economically, the tunnel could help to revitalise the district’s fortunes, without even considering the health, leisure and connectivity benefits that would come with a cycle path network.

“We urge Bradford Council to seize this opportunity. If it’s serious in its stated ambition to make cycling ‘a natural part of everyone’s daily life’, high-quality infrastructure has to be provided to get people off the roads. We will work constructively and collaboratively with the Council in achieving that goal. This film is a clear demonstration of the time and energy we’re ready to invest.”

 

 

After an unpromising start, having to be bribed by her parents to learn to ride without stabilisers, Sarah became rather keener on cycling in her university years, and was eventually persuaded to upgrade to proper road cycling by the prospect of a shiny red Italian bike, which she promptly destroyed by trapping a pair of knickers in the rear derailleur. Sarah writes about about cycling every weekend on road.cc.