A STUDY by sustainable transport charity Sustrans estimates reopening the disused Queensbury Tunnel as a cycle route could bring major benefits to the West Yorkshire economy.
Sustrans’ findings suggest economic, health and tourism benefits of more than £37million could be generated over 30 years with the tunnel at the heart of a proposed network of cycle paths linking Halifax, Keighley and Bradford.
Evidence suggests the plan could also sustain 80 jobs and a further 95 indirect jobs.
The ‘Two Tunnels’ scheme in Bath, using a section of the former Somerset & Dorset Joint Railway, has resulted in a significant increase in cycling across the city and is seen as a model for the Queensbury scheme.
However, the cost of restoring the tunnel, closed since May 1955, is crucial to the project’s viability.
Queensbury Tunnel Society estimates the cost of repairs at £2.8m, while the Historical Railways Estate puts the figure at more than £35m. Options exist for developing the cycle network without the tunnel, but these are expected to have much lower tourism potential.
Sustrans emphasises the study’s conclusions are ‘preliminary’, pending further development work on the routes and a deeper understanding of the tunnel’s condition.
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