‘Hogwarts Express’ gets up a head of steam for restart of popular Lochaber trips

Lord of the Isles, in front, with Lancashire Fusilier as they head for Fort William on Sunday. NO F29 two locomotives
Lord of the Isles, in front, with Lancashire Fusilier as they head for Fort William on Sunday. Photograph: James Shuttleworth.

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Captured by the photographer as they passed Greenholme on Shap in Cumbria on Sunday on their way to Fort William, are the steam locomotives Lord of the Isles (front) and Lancashire Fusilier.

The two engines, numbers 62005 and 45407 respectively, are scheduled to start hauling the Jacobite steam train service on the West Highland Line this week when the popular visitor attraction restarts after the easing of coronavirus lockdown restrictions.

The engines travelled up from the base of operator, West Coast Railways, at Carnforth, in Lancashire.

However, because of some delay in arranging the paperwork, Lord of the Isles will not be able to operate until next week at the earlier.

Instead, for the first week, duties on the service – immortalised as the Hogwarts Express in the Harry Potter movies – will be shared between 45407 and 45212.

The West Highland line reopened for passengers on Monday morning following the successful completion of repair works between Fort William and Mallaig.

The line had been closed by damaged tracks at Lochailort after extreme rainfall caused a nearby stream to overflow and wash-away a section of the railway embankment beneath the line.

Engineers worked around-the-clock to replace more than 1,600 tons of material washed away by the flash-flood on June 25 and to install new under-track drainage systems and re-lay over 80 metres of track.

Work was carried out to improve drainage on third-party land to reduce future risk to the railway and the project team also improved the flood defences of a nearby line-side neighbour affected by the extreme weather.

Liam Sumpter, Network Rail Scotland route director, said: ‘With the easing of lockdown and the reopening of the tourism sector, it was vital that we completed these repairs quickly to help support the local economy in the West Highlands.

‘I’d also thank our contractors – QTS and Story – for their close collaboration during this project, which has been vital to getting passengers moving again.’