Suspended Harry Potter train owner back on track

A popular summer steam service across the Settle & Carlisle Line, The Waverley, has a newly restored addition to its team of historic locomotives this year.
A popular summer steam service across the Settle & Carlisle Line, The Waverley, has a newly restored addition to its team of historic locomotives this year.

The Carnforth-based firm that runs steam train journeys across the country – including the world famous Hogwarts Express – has had its suspension lifted.

West Coast Railways (WCR), which owns and runs steam trains including the Hogwarts Express, used in the Harry Potter films, The Dalesman, and the Jacobite, will resume its services after its ban was lifted by Network Rail last week.

The regulator revoked its suspension of the firm from the entire British network after one of its steam locomotives ran past a red light onto a main line.

West Coast Railways, based in Jesson Way had saidlast Wednesday it was unlikely its servicebetween Fort William and Mallaig in Scotland, made famous by the Harry Potter films, would run because of the scale of improvements demanded by Network Rail.

The ban was imposed after a WCR train went past a red signal and stopped on the Great Western main line near Swindon in March, one minute after an express train.

Network Rail said it was the worst such case this year, and described WCR as a “threat to the safe operation of the railway”.

The track firm said today it was now satisfied that WCR had “addressed all of the actions” it had demanded ahead of a deadline on Friday.

Freight director Paul McMahon said: “We welcome the commitment WCR has made to improving safety management”, and its creation of new safety roles among senior staff.

He told WCR: “We recognise and welcome that you intend to put in place a phased return of services, to allow you and your most experienced staff to implement your new procedures before use with a wider range of services.”

The improvements will be reviewed in August.

A WCR spokesman said: “The Jacobite will steam out on schedule on Monday, 11 May and all services thereafter remain unchanged.”

A total of 85,000 people are expected to rise on 225 Jacobite services until October.

WCR has run the operation for 20 years.