New path links town and workplaces with proposed new university campus

A disused railway in Northamptonshire is to become a cycle path after developers paid £1.5 million for it.

The path, which links Brackmills Industrial Estate to the Northampton Enterprise Zone two miles away, has been bought by West Northamptonshire Development Corporation (WNDC).

It bought the land from Network Rail, including 20 acres of wild land that will become a wildlife reserve.

The money spent will be reinvested in the railway network, while the new path will connect pedestrians and cyclists to existing facilities and a proposed new university campus.

WNDC’s chief executive Peter Mawson said: "The disused railway line has the potential to be a great addition to the local transport network, helping to make Northampton a truly walkable town."

Cllr Michael Clarke, Northamptonshire County Council cabinet member for transport, highways and environment, said: “This is great news. We now need to work with our partners to see how this disused railway line can be used best to bring maximum benefits to the community.

"We’re always exploring new ways of introducing more sustainable transport routes, which have many advantages including helping to reduce congestion and pollution as well as associated health benefits.”

Earlier this year we reported the opening of the Two Tunnels Greenway on a former railway line in Bath, which became a four-mile long walking and cycling route between Bath and Midford, including Britain’s longest cycling tunnel, the Combe Down Tunnel.

It was jointly developed by the sustainable transport charity Sustrans and Bath and North East Somerset Council.

Four former railway tunnels in the Peak District National Park have also opened to walkers and cyclists after lying disused for more than 40 years. The £2.25 million project was undertaken by the Peak District National Park Authority as part of its Pedal Peak District project and has been funded by the Department for Transport.

The four tunnels – called Headstone, Cressbrook, Litton and Chee Tor – are each between 400 and 500 metres long and housed part of the route of the Midland Railway prior to their closure in 1968.

They have now been cleared, repaired, resurfaced with environmentally friendly materials and provided with long-life lighting.

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.