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Iconic Harry Potter train could return after fears it would be axed forever



A FAMOUS train loved by Harry Potter fans could return in time for the tourist season following a major safety update.

The world-famous Jacobite steam train transports hundreds of thousands of tourists every year.


The major safety update could see the service return in time for the tourist seasonCredit: Getty

West Coast Railway (WCR), operators of the renowned Scots tourist attraction in the Highlands, are considering switching outdated carriages to coaches that are compliant with the new safety laws.

Since 2003, steam trains have been given two ten-year exemptions to use alternative locking systems on the carriage doors.

But the Office of Road and Rail revoked the exemption last year.

The rail firm challenged the decision in court but it lost the legal fight.

The crushing blow meant bosses would have to fork out £7million to update the coaches – wiping out profits for up to a decade.

The company has been looking into options to save plans to restart the service on March 28.

Historic carriages transport sightseers to Mallaig, Fort William, and over the Glenfinnan Viaduct.

It is frequently described as the “greatest journey in the world” and anyone lucky enough to get a seat on the train has to book months in advance.

The Jacobite steam train shot to fame when it was used as the Hogwarts Express in the Harry Potter films.

The Scotsman reports that the firm could use a different set of carriages that have central door locking or add safety features to the existing coaches.

A spokesperson said: “West Coast Railway is considering a range of options, including evaluating the feasibility, costs, and timescales for fitting central door locking, running passenger services with carriages already fitted with it, as well as systems for operating without it.

“These considerations are ongoing, and no concrete plan has been agreed yet.

“We will work hard to minimise disruption to customers and are confident we will be able to deliver the incredible experience of safe steam travel without compromising the magic of running heritage locomotives on the mainline this year.”

Locomotive Services Limited Group chairman Jeremy Hosking, criticised the rail firm, adding: “By its deliberate and calculated non-compliance, WCR has created an unlevel playing field whereby a dissenting firm enjoys a consequential competitive advantage over more responsible operators.”

Doug Carmichael, chairman of Friends of The West Highland Lines, said: “We sincerely hope that WCR will be able to not only fit the required new door equipment to some of their coaches, but also be able to lease coaches which have a suitable locking system compatible with the steam engines which pull The Jacobite – the most popular steam-hauled service in the UK.

“With reportedly hundreds of advanced bookings already filling its trains for the upcoming season, the company will have to act quickly to keep the famous train running on the equally-renowned West Highland Line.”

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