Imagine cycling for nearly 2 and a half kilometers through a tunnel under a village, avoiding steep climbs, crazy traffic and inclement weather. Sounds like a nice idea, right?
One group of campaigners in the Pennines are looking to turn this vision into a reality.
They are hoping to transform the long-abandoned Queensbury Tunnel into a cycling greenway, a traffic-free route, which will produce a direct connection between Bradford and Halifax for cyclists.
Opening in 1878, the tunnel carried trains right under the village of Queensbury itself, but closed after years of service in 1956. It’s currently owned by the Highways Agency, who are planning to conduct repairs.
The campaigners hope that by working with them, they could go further and turn a closed line into a new travel resource for the public to use.
Sustrans, the sustainable transport charity, are backing the exciting project. They have extensive experience of this kind of endeavour, having worked to transform another abandoned rail way tunnel near Bath into what is now an iconic and much-loved greenway.
The Bath Two Tunnels greenway opened in April 2013, and incorporates the victorian-built Combe Down Tunnel. With its twin, the Devonshire Tunnel, these lines carried freight and passengers between Bath and the south coast.
Finally closing in 1967, they lay abandoned for decades until the ambitious Sustrans project to get the route reopened and transformed into a safe, dry greenway for cyclists and pedestrians alike. It even features an audio-visual art installation part way through.
At 1,670m long, it’s the current record holder for longest underground cycleway in the UK, but the Queensbury Tunnel greenway, if it happens, would knock it from the top spot.
There’s no guarantee that the project will go ahead, however. The tunnel is in dire need of repair, sections are at risk of caving in and the Halifax end is currently under 12m of water! If the costs prove too great, the other alternative is to fill the tunnel in with concrete.
If you’d like to sign the e-petition that’s been submitted to the Department of Transport to ask them to consider the cycle route suggestion, click here.
We’re all in favour of increasing the number of safe cycle routes in the UK, so we’ll be following this story with interest.