Harry Potter steam train suspension could cost £50m in 'lost value'

The Jacobite steam train service which runs over the Glenfinnan Viaduct is a popular attraction.

Harry Potter Jacobite steam train suspension could cost £50m in ‘lost value’ West Coast Railways

The suspension of the Jacobite steam train service featured in the Harry Potter films could cost £50m in “lost value”, warned the operator.

West Coast Railways (WCR) who run the Jacobite said it has been suspended with immediate effect as it awaits a verdict on allowing it to continue operating in its current state.

WCR, the UK’s largest main line heritage rail operator, sought a “short-term exemption certificate” from rail regulator the Office of Rail and Road (ORR) to continue to operate with hinged-door carriages.

The service has operated for more than 30 years under an exemption that allows it to run with the style of carriages on the main lines, which is typically not allowed.

The Jacobite train runs between Mallaig and Fort William from March to October, crossing the Glenfinnan Viaduct.

WCR said passengers set to take a trip on the train would be offered a full refund following any cancellations.

The train is a popular attraction for Harry Potter after featuring in multiple of the franchise’s films including Philosopher’s Stone released in 2001 and the Chamber of Secrets which came out a year later.

The Jacobite train runs between Mallaig and Fort William from March to October, crossing the Glenfinnan Viaduct.iStock

WCR lost a High Court challenge against the ORR over the safety of doors on its carriages in December.

The company had complained that the multimillion-pound cost of having to retrofit central locking could “destroy” its business and it argued its door systems were just as safe.

But a judge dismissed the operator’s case and concluded the ORR had taken a “justifiable” approach.

Speaking about the suspension, James Shuttleworth, commercial manager at WCR, said: “We are disappointed to have to suspend this service and we are sorry for the inconvenience caused to our customers who have booked trips.

“We again appeal to the ORR to reconsider our request for a temporary exemption.

“The Jacobite service is enjoyed by thousands of customers every year.

“It boosts the local economies of Mallaig and Fort William and brings an estimated £20m into the UK’s tourism sector.

“If the ORR does not grant us a further exemption, we believe this could lead to up to £50m in lost value to both local and national communities.

“We remain committed to working with the ORR to find a long-term solution which safeguards the future of heritage services on the main line.”

Passengers seeking information on refunds can email WCR on enquiries@westcoastrailways.net for more details.

The ORR has been contacted for comment.

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