Harry Potter train operators ask for exemption as services suspended

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

The operators of the Jacobite steam train made famous by Harry Potter have applied for an exemption from railway safety regulations to allow them to keep running.

Operators West Coast Railways suspended the service after they were told to fit a new central locking system onto carriage doors.

They have now written to the UK rail minister asking for intervention while their application for exemption from regulation five of the railway safety regulations is considered.

Eight MPs have written a joint letter to Hugh Merriman, the minister of transport, in support of the request to the Office of Rail and Road (ORR) to grant the temporary application.

It’s understood that West Coast Railways will meet with the Department of Transport next week to push their case.

Network Rail will carry out repairs worth £3.4m on the viaduct. Network Rail via Supplied

The train is more familiar to many as the Hogwarts Express, made world famous by the Harry Potter movies.

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.

West Coast Railways suspended the service in March while it awaits a verdict on allowing it to continue operating in its current state.

The company lost a High Court challenge against the ORR over the safety of the doors 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.

The iconic railway journey usually hosts more than seven hundred passengers a day to enjoy the stunning views from Fort William to Mallaig, crossing the Glenfinnan Viaduct.

The suspension in service has been tough on local businesses due to the lack of visitors.

Local business owner, Maria Wilson, told STV News that local businesses are “suffering” as the suspension continues.

“Right now, we’ve maybe seen a third of the amount of people that we usually see.

“Between this shop here and my shop in Mallaig we are suffering. The high street is emptier in Fort William. People don’t just come here to travel on the train and leave again.

“They stay in the hotels. They eat in the restaurants, they go to the pubs,” she said.

STV News is now on WhatsApp

Get all the latest news from around the country

Follow STV News
Follow STV News on WhatsApp

Scan the QR code on your mobile device for all the latest news from around the country

WhatsApp channel QR Code