FLOODING has halted initial works to infill the historic Queensbury Tunnel. 

Amco-Giffen, the appointed contractor, was due to begin work on Monday.

This would have involved the installation of temporary strengthening arches, but access at the south end was impossible due to water extending more than 350 yards into the tunnel.

The Queensbury Tunnel Society (QTS) wants to see the tunnel transformed into a cycle path and has fought tooth and nail to halt the plans of Highways England Historical Railways Estate (HRE) - which acts as the custodian of the disused railway on behalf of the Department for Transport - to abandon the 1.4-mile long structure.

Highways England confirmed earlier this month that safety work was due to begin to "reduce the risk to the community around the tunnel".

The Department for Transport says it remains willing to transfer ownership of the tunnel to another statutory body

Norah McWilliam, leader of the Queensbury Tunnel Society, said the delay is an opportunity for HRE to "pause and reflect".

She said: "Bradford Council is looking at the viability of taking on the tunnel’s ownership, allowing it to be transformed into a nationally significant landmark on our cycle path network which would bring benefits to the region for generations to come. That process should be allowed to run its course without the threat of abandonment overtaking it.”

Highways England declined to comment. 

The society says Bradford Council is  shortly expected to receive a report from its consulting engineers on the condition of the tunnel and the likely cost of bringing it back into use.

The findings will be reviewed alongside other relevant issues before a decision is taken on a transfer of the tunnel’s ownership to the Council, without which the proposal to reopen it as a cycle path cannot move forward.