HERITAGE railway bosses have apologised for almost doubling fares for local pensioners following a complaint from a regular traveller.

The Keighley and Worth Valley Railway said rising costs had forced the long-delayed increase in the cut-price fare for Senior Local Resident Railcard holders.

Chairman Matt Stroh said the sharp increase, from £2.75 to £5 for a return ticket, brought the fare in line with other concessionary rates on the Keighley-Oxenhope line.

He said the inflation-busting rise was essential to ensure such users did not pay less than fully-paid-up KWVR members, who also get a concession.

Mr Stroh, one of many volunteers who keep the historic locomotives running, spoke following a complaint from an Oxenhope man who rides almost every week on the trains with his grandchildren.

Stuart Taylor, of West Drive, was angry that the KWVR hiked its fares dramatically after he had renewed his £5-a-year Seniors Railcard.

Mr Taylor and his wife Anne wrote to chairman Mr Straw expressing “deep dismay and disappointment” at the decision.

He said: “As retirees we feel targeted and distributed against. Reliant on pensions, we need to be extra careful how we spend our money.

“We have supported KWVR since moving to Oxenhope in 1982, using the line with friends and family before having our own children.

He said the lack of publicity over the “drastic” price rises was not appropriate for an organisation with charitable status.

He added: “Nor is it acceptable to go against the grain of most other organisations who readily offer concessions to clients and customers who are over 60.”

KWVR bosses have pointed out that the £5 Senior Local full-line return fare paid by Mr Taylor is less than half the price of a standard adult ticket.

Mr Stroh responded that as a charity the KWVR had a responsibility to “keep the wheels turning” amidst rising costs, including recently the £300,000 bill for restoring one of its first-ever locomotives.

He said: “I’m sorry we had to take this decision to increase fares, but it was important to harmonise the discount to all the seniors, members and non-members.

“Some of our members have contributed to the railway for 50 years either as volunteers or keen supporters. We want to ensure that what they get in return from us represents the contribution they put in.

“We’ve made a difficult decision based on financing the running of the railway. We’ve tried to put off the decision for many years. The local resident discount is still generous.”

Mr Stroh offered to refund Mr Taylor’s Senior Railcard fee if he no longer wanted to travel on the railway.