A LOT of life happens on railway platforms. Romantic reunions, dangerous liaisons, new chapters, tearful goodbyes, thrilling getaways, heartbreaking separations - it’s all there, as whistles blow and trains arrive and depart.

In the opening scenes of The Railway Children Return - soon-to-be-released sequel to the beloved 1970 film - bewildered children are boarding trains on crowded platforms, pressing hands against carriage windows to the mothers left behind, their brave faces crumpling into distraught sobs.

Those wartime scenes, child evacuees sent away with their names on luggage labels, are the stuff of period dramas, memory groups and homework projects. But they continue to be reality for children around the world, unaccompanied and separated, from Syria to Ukraine.

On Sunday I was on the platform at Oakworth Station, a place familiar to me even though I’ve only been there once or twice before. Anyone who has seen The Railway Children (and if you haven’t, what else were you doing on rainy Bank Holiday afternoons?) will feel as if they know Oakworth Station. It is where we expect to find Mr Perks busy at his signal box, three children peering into the station-master’s office and, in a cloud of steam, a heart-stopping moment that still makes us cry more than 50 years later.

On the Keighley & Worth Valley Railway website it says the “spiritual presence” of Lionel Jeffries’ film is everywhere in this sleepy little station. As I stood on the platform last Sunday with a scrum of photographers, waiting for the cast of The Railway Children Return to arrive for a press-call, I wondered why Jeffries’ original film still has such an emotional pull. It does of course have that exquisite steam railway setting, and the landscapes of Haworth, Oakworth and Oxenhope, but it’s more than that.

Bradford Telegraph and Argus: Jenny Agutter at Oakworth Station this week, with train driver Nick Hellewell. Pic: Chris PayneJenny Agutter at Oakworth Station this week, with train driver Nick Hellewell. Pic: Chris Payne

It is, says Jenny Agutter, about “the resilience of children”. Faithful to E Nesbitt’s book, Jeffries’ film is seen through a child’s eyes, making it a particularly poignant portrayal of innocence in a world where there are sinister visitors to a suburban London house, grown-up voices behind closed doors and a mother left sobbing, alone, at night. Through the eyes of three Edwardian children, that is all we know. The rest of their story - adapting to a new life in a Yorkshire railway village - we discover alongside them.

The railway becomes the children’s rite of passage; it’s their playground, it brings excitement, danger and hope, and for Bobbie, it represents the journey to young adulthood.

I fell in love with The Railway Children as a child and have seen it so many times, I can recite the scenes. I have cherished memories of watching it with my nephews when they were little, and taking them on the Keighley & Worth Valley Railway.

“There’s a reason those films endure,” says Morgan Matthews, director of The Railway Children Return. “Watching films with your family, it’s a really important part of your experience as a child, parent, grandparent, uncle, auntie or whatever. I hope The Railway Children Return gives families that shared experience - something to connect with on an emotional level.”

This film, like Lionel Jeffries’ charming original, is a family adventure about hope and resilience. And a timely reminder that when grown-ups do terrible things, it is children who are left to adapt.