The iconic 'Hogwarts Express' may cease operation after February
The Scottish train route made famous by the Harry Potter franchise has received an exemption to run amid concerns over its safety, but it may be terminating soon – for good.
The Jacobite on Scotland‘s West Highland Line runs between Fort William and Mallaig in the country’s northwest. However, the heritage steamer that traverses this picturesque route is better known as the fictional Hogwarts Express in the Harry Potter franchise that transports students (and viewers) into the school’s magical realm from Platform 9¾.
Fans flock from around the world to watch The Jacobite cross the Glenfinnan Viaduct, a century-old railway bridge instantly recognisable to Harry Potter enthusiasts. Actual tickets for the train are booked out months in advance, but those lucky enough to bag them will embark in the footsteps of young witches and wizards as The Jacobite weaves through Scotland’s dramatic landscapes. Unfortunately, 2024 might be the ultimate terminus of ‘one of the greatest rail journeys in the world‘.
Why is the train potentially ceasing operation?
The uncertainty surrounding the train’s future comes amid safety concerns about the train and its operation. In 2023, a safety inspector discovered issues onboard The Jacobite that were considered a breach of Health and Safety. As a result, services were cancelled this year. Specifically, the old-school locking systems onboard heritage trains are currently the subject of a judicial review.
This isn’t the first time the safety of the railway has been called into question. The operator of The Jacobite, West Coast Railways, was banned from operating trains anywhere in Britain due to the 2015 Wootton Bassett rail incident. The operator was banned again due to concerns about the West Coast Railways’ management of safety.
How long will the train continue running for?
The good news is that The Jacobite has been granted a three-month exemption from regulations that mandate modern, centralised locking systems on trains. However, beyond that, the beloved steamer faces an uncertain fate. Despite this, tickets are still on sale for the entire 2024 season.