Bosses of Keighley’s world-famous steam railway fear a national coal shortage could hit the five-mile line.

The recent collapse of Scottish Coal and a fire in a Warwickshire mine have left many of Britain’s heritage railways struggling to find suppliers.

The Keighley & Worth Valley Railway (K&WVR) says it is currently unaffected by the crisis.

But there are concerns that as demand on coal providers soars from increasingly-desperate rail companies, the shortage could worsen.

And the K&WVR warns that it may have to look at running more diesel units rather than steam engines if the situation deteriorates.

Roger France, the railway’s press officer, told us: “Our supplier in Scotland hasn’t been affected so we’re currently OK, but some railways are in a critical position and facing the prospect of having to close.

“Although we are alright at the moment we are concerned that we might get caught up in the problem as more demand is placed on remaining suppliers.”

He said a particular type of coal, which is larger than the standard kind and has a lower ash content, is used in steam locomotives.

Today, when the railway was busy with Bank Holiday visitors, around five tonnes have been needed to keep trains running.

And services on the line, which shot to stardom after being used in the filming of the classic 1970 movie version of The Railway Children, will now be operating daily until September.

Mr France, who today appeared on national BBC news broadcasts to discuss the issue, said he hoped there would be no need to reduce steam operations.

“Hopefully it won’t come to that and certainly we wouldn’t want to close the line - it is very important to the local economy,” he added.