A SECTION of one of the district’s most popular tourist attractions “requires urgent replacement”.

The charity that runs the Keighley & Worth Valley Railway has applied for permission to replace one of the bridges on the heritage line.

Structural surveys have found that Bridge 27 at Bridgehouse Lane in Haworth needs work to replace rusting metal and rotting timbers, plus stonework repairs.

It says the structure, which dates from the 1880s, “has reached the end of its usable life”.

Last year the railway was awarded £1m by the Government to repair the bridge, and the first stage of the work was scheduled to start this month.

Running from Keighley to Oxenhope, the five-mile railway is a hugely popular tourist attraction that draws tens of thousands of people each year.

The application submitted to Bradford Council says it will be impossible to create a like-for-like replacement for the bridge, and a modern, steel structure will be needed.

The group that runs the railway says initial works to divert drainage are beginning now, but the bulk of the work will take place in September.

It's likely the line will need to close for around three weeks.

The website for the railway describes the bridge replacement as “without a doubt one of the biggest civil engineering projects the railway has undertaken”.

A letter from the organisation included in the application says: “Structural engineers’ reports have determined that the bridge has now reached the end of its usable life, both due to the condition of the superstructure iron girders and the abutments and pier on which the superstructure rests.

“The bridge therefore requires urgent replacement.

“The bridge is located in a conservation area. It is not possible to replace the bridge like-for-like due to the need to meet modern standards of bridge design and derailment protection necessitating the upward extension of the bridge superstructure; the need to maintain or reduce the contribution of the bridge to flooding in the Haworth area arising from Bridgehouse Beck, and the need to achieve compliance with modern work-at-height legislation by reducing the risk arising from necessary work at height over a watercourse.”

A structural engineer’s report included in the application says the main defects relate to "high levels of structural section loss resulting from paint loss and corrosion over the years.

“The section loss to the main girders could significantly reduce the safe load capacity of the bridge."