Queensbury Tunnel: Cycle method campaigners supply tunnel imaginative and prescient

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Forgotten Relics

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The Queensbury Tunnel has been unused for 60 years and is flooded in elements

Lots of of toes under the Pennine hills between Bradford and Halifax is probably the most controversial infrastructure challenge you’ve got most likely by no means heard of.

It is 1.four miles (2.3km) lengthy and at the least 10 folks died constructing it within the Victorian period.

Queensbury Tunnel has been slumbering, forgotten and abandoned for many years.

But it may very well be resurrected as a shining instance of an built-in, inexperienced transport community. Or it may very well be about to be blocked up and forgotten endlessly.

Though, due to a latest sequence of unlucky occasions, it is anybody’s guess as to what occurs subsequent.

Deep in a inexperienced city valley on the outskirts of Bradford, Graham Bickerdike watches contractors coming and going from the north portal of the tunnel.

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Forgotten Relics

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Campaigners consider the tunnel can be utilized as a cycleway between the Bradford and Halifax districts somewhat than be blocked up

Mr Bickerdike is the engineering co-ordinator for the marketing campaign to show the outdated track-bed right into a cycle method, which might make sure you entice folks from miles round.

“Sadly, Highways England (which is answerable for the tunnel) uncared for to pay the £50 annual hire on the pumping station on the south finish which retains it dewatered,” he stated.

“Because of that, in the following couple of months, eight.2 million gallons of floodwater entered the tunnel.

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“Highways England described it as a ‘easy however unlucky administrative error’. However there’s now 37ft of water at that finish.”

‘£2m error’

There’s a lot water that, when it flooded, the southern finish disappeared and is marked by a brand new inland lake which now has fish in it. Once I visited a yr in the past you would see the sunshine on the different finish of the tunnel however that’s now submersed and invisible.

Highways England has stated it by no means obtained a requirement for hire for the pump, nor did the proprietor, which is the Division for Transport.

Official paperwork recommend it ought to have been paid whether or not formally demanded or not.

That water now wants pumping out.

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Campaigners worry the tunnel might be sealed off and misplaced as a possibility for cyclists

Mr Bickerdike means that “easy however unlucky administrative error” might value the taxpayer £2m.

Highways England admits the water downside has pushed up prices however actually not by that a lot.

It additionally means contractors engaged on web site can solely achieve this from the dry northern finish. To get to the opposite finish they’ve needed to make secure the central a part of the tunnel, which was all the time thought to be probably the most harmful part.

By doing so, campaigners consider, the tunnel is being made usable by default and it will be insanity to desert it.

“The work they’ve now carried out within the worst a part of the tunnel, within the center, to place in metal strengthening, really types the idea of a everlasting restore,” stated Mr Bickerdike.

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“That has possible diminished the price of restore, so we at the moment are at a degree the place the price of abandonment and the price of restore have virtually converged.”

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4 by Three

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An artist’s impression imagines how the tunnel might take care of a conversion to a cycle path

In case you presently look into the northern finish of the tunnel you’ll be able to see staff and a air flow system noisily working. If this was changed into a biking tunnel it will be a part of up the Bradford and Halifax districts.

You possibly can cycle simply between the 2, removing a grinding hill climb to get there.

Railway tunnels have been transformed efficiently elsewhere and it’s straightforward to think about folks travelling from afar to cycle by this historic railway hyperlink.

It’s a lengthy tunnel and the prices going ahead can be substantial however supporters argue the cash customers would generate would make it viable within the long-term.

Watching on, Nora McWilliam is on the forefront of the marketing campaign to get a cycleway constructed.

A retired instructor, her house is on a hilltop overlooking the valley. I ask her if she thinks there can be such a protracted debate if the tunnel ran underneath the hills of Surrey?

“No, I do not,” she laughs.

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H C Casserley

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The Nice Northern Railway line by the Queensbury Tunnel closed in 1956

The frustration is being felt politically too. The Queensbury Tunnel marketing campaign is now being backed by each Bradford and Calderdale councils, which every have one finish of the tunnel. However these native authorities admit they don’t have the cash to make it occur.

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The problem has made it to Parliament the place a cross-party alliance of native MPs desires to see it remodeled somewhat than forgotten. The Labour MP for Halifax, Holly Lynch is one in all them.

“It is simply one thing that would actually add to our transport infrastructure. Let’s get it open, get it renovated and get folks utilizing it,” she stated.

“When you think about it may value greater than £5m simply to fill it in with concrete, that cash is there for filling it in, however why can we not convert that into cash for repurposing it, making it one thing majestic?”

Strain is now being placed on ministers to rethink the present route of journey in the direction of abandonment.

It is a railway tunnel at a flooded crossroads.




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