Tunnel vision under threat

Plans to extend the Great Northern cycleway and footpath – which starts in Cullingworth – are under threat.

It has been revealed there is no money to restore a railway tunnel to help link the Cullingworth and Queensbury sections.

A new group is campaigning to see the partially-flooded Queens-bury railway tunnel restored and opened as a cycle route.

Queensbury Community Heritage and Action Partnership (Q CHAP) wants to see the Victorian tunnel used to create a path for pedestrians and cyclists, among wider plans for the regeneration of the area.

Q CHAP is made up of smaller groups in the area and holds its first meeting at Holy Trinity Church today.

But even before the inaugural session, it has emerged funding will be an issue.

The tunnel is the responsibility of the Highways Agency, and it is making plans to carry out maintenance work to the structure during the next five years. Sustrans, the organisation that campaigns for sustainable transport, has also had some involvement.

Q CHAP wants an assurance whatever maintenance is carried out, nothing will be done to prevent it being used by cyclists.

While the Highways Agency has confirmed it is planning maintenance in the years ahead, a spokes-man said: “This work is subject to funding and the ongoing prioritisation of all of our work.

“At this stage, we are unable to confirm the precise nature of this work – parts of the tunnel have been inaccessible for a number of years due to flooding, and would need to be drained before preliminary investigations could be carried out to determine the condition of the tunnel and the level of maintenance work required.

“We hope to begin these investigations during the summer. Until this initial work is complete, we are unable to speculate on the type of work required, the timescales or the likely costs involved.

“No specific Highways Agency funds have been set aside to accommodate a cycle path.

“However, we are aware that before the Highways Agency took over responsibility for the tunnel, the British Rail Board Residuary Ltd and Sustrans had discussions about Sustrans’ aspirations for the tunnel.

“The Highways Agency’s Historical Railways Estate team has actively maintained that positive relationship with Sustrans since the transfer, and will continue to do so.”

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