COMMUTER trains could run on the Keighley and Worth Valley Railway under new proposals from the heritage line’s bosses.

The volunteer-run railway has asked the government for £50,000 to look at the feasibility of connecting the Railway Children line to the public transport network.

The money would allow the railway to research public demand for such a service.

Railway bosses could then assess whether running a daytime train service would fit alongside its existing, hugely successful existence as a visitor attraction.

K&WVR Preservation Society chairman Matt Stroh this week admitted that it would be a huge challenge to reconcile the two types of train service – charitable and commercial – and gain agreement between the railway’s 700-plus volunteers.

He said: “It’s an emotive subject. We have members who are passionate about both sides of the argument.

“We have had 50 years of volunteer people-power to create this wonderful heritage experience.

“We are a charity and we have to be very sensitive to all our charitable objectives. We can’t risk any of the charity’s money taking a punt that demand will be there.”

The Keighley and Worth Valley Railway is one of seven organisations in Yorkshire and Humber who have submitted bids to the Restoring Your Railway fund to build or reopen lines and stations that were closed in and around the Beeching cuts of the 1960s.

An expert panel will now consider which bids have the best potential to connect communities, “level up” regional economies, and boost access to jobs and education.

Mr Stroh said the K&WVR, which has in the past rejected proposals to start a commuter service, decided to make a bid after being approached by Keighley MP Robbie Moore.

He said the feasibility study would specifically look at whether there was demand from the public, and support from politicians, to start such a service. He said that if demand was proven, and only then, would the Preservation Society embark on a detailed investigation of the challenges of running a commuter service.

Among the questions would be whether the railway runs the service itself or hands it over to a commercial company; availability of subsidies to run the new service; whether a daily commuter timetable would impact on existing steam services and track repairs; and the potential extra income to support preservation work.

The railway would also look at the “not insignificant” costs of improvements to railway infrastructure, constructing new buildings to house commuter trains, bringing those trains up to modern standards, and employing a team to maintain the extra trains.