A RAIL firm is calling for two tunnels under the Pennines to be reopened to trains.
Freight operator EWS said its number one priority is to get the Standedge tunnels between Marsden and Diggle back into use.
Traffic on both sides of the Pennines could be immediately be won over from road to rail if the work is carried out, says the firm.
Euro MP Chris Davies today gave his backing to the bid.
But he warned any improvements are likely to be some way off.
He said: "The sad fact is that privatisation has led to higher railway operating costs and a much increased public subsidy.
"Until the cost explosion can be brought under control, the prospects for sensible investment of this kind sadly remain a long way off."
The disused single-track tunnels run at the side of the present-day Huddersfield-Manchester line.
EWS says it wants to be able to use the largest modern containers - one foot taller than the maximum that can be run through the double track tunnel at present.
Relaying tracks for passenger trains through the unused tunnels would allow the double-track tunnel to be converted to freight use.
A single line down the middle would permit the largest containers to be conveyed.
Mr Davies, a Liberal Democrat Euro MP for the North-West, said he had written to the Strategic Rail Authority seeking its views.
EWS network strategy manager Andrew Relf, said the work would also help increase the reliability and flexibility of the firm's entire freight business when other lines are closed for engineering works.
The three Standedge tunnels were built between 1849 and 1894, with the first being the longest in the world at the time.
They contributed to the declining use of a fourth tunnel, carrying the Huddersfield Narrow Canal under the Pennines.