A STAR from a classic 1970 movie helped 'launch' a new train at Keighley Railway Station.

Graham Mitchell, who appeared as a guard in the timeless version of The Railway Children, waved-off the Class 331 Proud to be Northern as it departed from the platform.

He agreed to perform the honours in a tribute by train operator Northern to the film, whose cast also included Jenny Agutter and Bernard Cribbins.

The movie was shot on the Keighley & Worth Valley Railway, and propelled the five-mile line to international fame.

Almost half a century later, fans of the film are still among the many thousands of visitors drawn to the steam railway every year.

Mr Mitchell – who lives at Oakworth, where the station was the location for a number of scenes – said: "I was delighted to accept when Northern approached me.

"I was proud to be involved in The Railway Children and have many happy memories of the filming."

The former town mayor – who is chairman of the Friends of Airedale Line, and one of the organisation’s ‘station adopters’ for Keighley – was joined at the waving-off ceremony by Northern's Steve Hopkinson and Pete Myers.

Mr Hopkinson, the company's regional director, said: "The Railway Children is one of my all-time favourite stories, and it was therefore a genuine thrill to meet Graham.

"The railway is a very different place to that of the Edwardian period, but nonetheless with the introduction of our new trains right across the north we felt that this was worth celebrating.

"We could think of no finer way of doing so than by paying tribute to this classic movie, so much of it filmed just along the line at Oakworth."

The event coincided with the news that Network Rail is to invest over £4 million in upgrading Keighley Railway Station.

Work will include a refurbishment of the station building, footbridge and entrance.

Network Rail, which is working closely with Northern on the project, says the heritage of the Grade II listed building will be protected and that the scheme – due to get under way next April – will be carried out in phases to minimise disruption for station users.

Mr Myers, Northern's regional stakeholder manager, said: "We really welcome this investment by Network Rail as Keighley is an important station for us, with many commuters travelling through it every day. Equally important is its historic significance because of its links to the terrific Keighley and Worth Valley Railway.

"Nevertheless, because of its age, it has not been its best and therefore not represented the town as it should. This will change with Network Rail’s investment and we will work with them to ensure that we and the community get the maximum effect from it."