THE discovery of a huge underground mine shaft, big enough to fit an aeroplane's body into, has pushed back the opening of a new railway station by at least three months.

The unmapped cavity, part of centuries-old mine works, was found under the site of the long-awaited Low Moor railway station.

Contractors had originally hoped to finish the £10.8 million project at the end of April, but this has now been pushed back to July, with trains expected to start calling there later in the summer.

But supporters of the station maintain it will be worth the wait.

The Friends of Low Moor Station, a pressure group which led a long campaign for the new facility, said the discovery of the mine shaft could have threatened to set the project back more than a year, but contingency plans put in place by transport bosses had worked well.

Chairman Dave Stevens said: "While we’re obviously disappointed in the delay, because we’re all looking forward to using the station, we’re quite impressed by the contingency planning that has gone on.

"The discovery of the previously unmapped mine-workings has only caused a minimal delay to the schedule - it could have caused huge problems."

The new station has been funded by West Yorkshire Combined Authority, Bradford Council and Network Rail.

The site was known to have a mining past, so contingency plans were in place from the outset, in case unmapped mine shafts were discovered.

These kicked into action when one was found directly under where the station's lift and footbridge was planned.

The cavity, at 60m deep and 12m wide, was said to be large enough to fit the fuselage of a commercial jet inside.

It has since been filled in and capped.

Bradford Council's transport boss, Councillor Val Slater, who also sits on the Combined Authority transport committee, said the delay couldn't be helped as safety had to come first.

She said: "When the design was done the old maps indicated that there was a mine shaft there. However, when work began, the maps were inaccurate and it wasn't where it said it was on the map, it was somewhere else.

"Unfortunately, it was right where the passenger lift was meant to go."

The mine works are believed to date back around 200 to 300 years, pre-dating an iron works which stood on the site.

The original Low Moor station closed in 1965 and the idea of reopening it was first mooted in 1999.

But the development, off Cleckheaton Road, has been beset by delays.

The new station will be served by hourly trains to Bradford Interchange, Leeds, Halifax and Huddersfield.