In West Yorkshire, the campaign to reopen a disused railway tunnel as part of an ambitious cycle network is approaching a critical point with the completion of on-site investigations by engineers acting for Bradford Council. Once complete, their study will inform decision-making about the viability of repairing the tunnel – parts of which are in poor condition – and the associated costs.
Meanwhile, Highways England – which manages 3,200 disused railway structures on behalf of the Department for Transport – is progressing an abandonment scheme which will result in parts of the tunnel being infilled. Subject to planning permission, the work will start soon at a cost to the taxpayer of more than £3 million.
Last year, a Sustrans study suggested that the cycle network could generate £37.6 million in social and economic benefits over 30 years. It’s generally accepted that reopening the tunnel will present significant challenges, but it’s also a once-only opportunity to connect the emerging cycle networks in the Aire and Calder valleys.