Jacobite steam train extends season after TV programme sparks surge in bookings

The Jacobite steam train draws tens of thousands of visitors each year to Glenfinnan to see it cross the famous viaduct. Photograph: Iain Ferguson, The Write Image. NO F26 jacobite steam train 01
The Jacobite steam train draws tens of thousands of visitors each year to Glenfinnan to see it cross the famous viaduct. Photograph: Iain Ferguson, The Write Image. NO F26 jacobite steam train 01

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Scotland’s steam-hauled Harry Potter train will carry on running between Fort William and Mallaig into November ­– thanks to a TV programme at the weekend.

Bookings apparently soared after Sunday’s episode of Channel 4’s Scotland’s Scenic Railways, featured the legendary Jacobite service.

So instead of ending this month it will continue running until Friday November 13.

A spokesman for West Coast Railways, which operates the service, told us: ‘The phones went crazy on Monday and haven’t stopped ringing since.

‘The demand was so phenomenal that we decided to extend the season and give more people the chance to travel on the train.’

The Jacobite will now run daily until Sunday October 25, and Monday to Friday from then until November 13.

The spokesman added: ‘Friday the 13th might be unlucky for some – but not for our lucky passengers.’

The train became world famous after it featured as the Hogwarts Express steaming over the Glenfinnan Viaduct in the Harry Potter movies.

But the start of this year’s operation was delayed because of the Covid-19 pandemic, with the number of seats reduced because of extra safety precautions introduced to keep passengers, staff and local resident safe.

The Channel 4 show featured the train guard, Florence MacLean, who has worked on the Jacobite for 24 years and even has a first-class coach named after her.

And it is a family affair because her son, Lewis,  also works as a fireman on the steam locomotive.