All change as Jacobite train operator now says steam loco still being used

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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Despite the Lochaber Times being told only yesterday (Wednesday) by the operator of the Jacobite steam train that a diesel locomotive was being used during the current heatwave because of the potential fire risk from sparks to nearby vegetation, we have now been requested to make clear that this information was actually incorrect.

A different spokesperson for West Coast Railways contacted us this morning (Thursday), just after the Lochaber Times contacted the company to ask why the steam train was still hauling the carriages today after yesterday’s statement.

He told us: ‘Despite local press and radio reporting – incorrectly – that the Jacobite would be diesel hauled, we can confirm that as normal, our Jacobite train is hauled by one of our steam engines. Please update your online paper with the correct info.’

We pointed out that the original information came from an official WCR spokesperson and asked what the situation actually is regarding the current heatwave and the use of steam locomotives.

We received the following reply: ‘With regards to the current heatwave, we are governed by Network Rail and the assessment that they carry out each day. If they believe the risk of fire to be low, then we are able to run with the steam engine.’

Asked for a statement, Network Rail told us: ‘The guidance is based on an on-the-ground assessment made by our Fort William-based mobile operations manager. Today’s guidance was that steam traction could be used.’