CAMPAIGNERS want action to ensure a scheme to convert a railway viaduct into a cycle route does not run out of steam.

Council chiefs have backed the plan at Hockley Viaduct and are speaking to green transport charity Sustrans.

The conversion is likely to take several years, but campaigners say not enough progress has been made since it was announced in 2007.

Julia Sandison of The Friends of Hockley Viaduct said: “In 2007 Winchester City Council announced a 12-year £500,000 programme to repair and restore the Hockley Viaduct to its former glory, but to date nothing has been done.

“The Friends of Hockley Viaduct have completed vegetation clearance along the 33-arch structure and recently the county council cleared all the vegetation along the trackbed.”

To boost their campaign, the group invited Winchester MP Steve Brine to join them for a walk along the historic structure.

Afterwards, he said: “The Hockley Viaduct is yet another one of those hidden gems Winchester has to offer, and it’s pretty big to hide!

“I found my visit fascinating and am in awe of the passion for it shown by Julia and The Friends of Hockley Viaduct.

“I am fully supportive of their ambition to restore the viaduct further and look forward to helping where I can.”

Both Hampshire County and Winchester City Councils are involved in the scheme, as the former owns the land and the latter owns the structure.

It was part of the now defunct Southampton to Newbury railway line and stands on Winchester’s southern outskirts, near the M3.

If the plan to make it into a cycle path goes ahead, the route would stretch around two miles from Hockley Link all the way into central Winchester.

Apart from restoring the viaduct, the project would also need a missing part of the structure at Five Bridges Road to be replaced.

There would also need to be a new link from the southern end of the viaduct towards Compton nearby.

The city council said it held talks with Sustrans earlier this month (April), and would speak to the county council soon.

Andy Hickman, city council head of access and infrastructure, said: “Feasibility work is being undertaken to see if it's possible to utilise the viaduct and parts of the old railway embankment as a cycle route forming part of the National Cycle Route Network.

“There are various land ownership and legal issues which are being looked into in relation to achieving this cycle route.”

He added that an update would come before the city council’s cabinet next month (May).