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Tours of Scotland since 1907

Jacobite Steam Train

Is The Jacobite Steam Train Running?

If you’re a fan of scenic railway journeys and historical trains, or perhaps a Harry Potter enthusiast, you’ve likely heard of the Jacobite Steam Train. This iconic train journey through the picturesque landscapes of Scotland has captivated the hearts of many.

Earlier this year came the devastating news that the iconic train service had been suspended. So, is the Jacobite Steam Train still running? Let’s delve into the current status of this beloved railway experience. Spoiler alert: we have good news for you!

Jacobite Steam Train Route

Fort William and Ben Nevis

The Jacobite Steam Train runs along the West Highland Line in Scotland, covering the 84-mile round trip between Fort William and Mallaig. Operated by West Coast Railways, this journey offers a breathtaking vista of lochs, mountains and golden sands.

The Jacobite Steam Train route begins in Fort William, a town known for its proximity to Ben Nevis, the UK’s highest peak. As the train departs, passengers are treated to views of Loch Eil and the striking scenery of the Scottish Highlands.

The journey then continues to Glenfinnan, where the train pauses to allow passengers to admire the view and take photographs of the famous viaduct. The train then winds its way through picturesque villages, forests, and along the coastline, eventually arriving in the fishing port of Mallaig.

Glenfinnan Viaduct

One of the key highlights of the train journey is crossing the Glenfinnan Viaduct. This architectural marvel gained international fame as the route to Hogwarts in the Harry Potter films. The sight of the steam train chugging along this viaduct has become an iconic image, drawing fans worldwide.

Hogwarts Express

Hogwarts Express

In J.K. Rowling’s Harry Potter series, the Hogwarts Express is the magical train that transports students from Platform 9¾ at King’s Cross Station in London to Hogsmeade Station near Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry.

This train, depicted as a scarlet steam engine, has become an iconic element of the Harry Potter universe, representing the gateway between the mundane world and the magical one.

In the real world, West Coast Railways provided the gleaming black steam engine and scarlet-coloured carriages to Warner Bros for the filming of “The Philosopher’s Stone” and others in this magical film series.

Jacobite Steam Train Timetable

The train typically operates from late April through October, with two daily departures during peak season.

Morning Service - Thursday 28 March to Friday 25 October 2024 (seven days per week)

Departs Fort William: 1015 hrs  Arrives Mallaig: 12:26 hrs
Departs Mallaig: 14:10 hrs          Arrives Fort William: 16:03 hrs

Afternoon Service – Monday 06 May to Friday 27 September 2024 (seven days per week)

Departs Fort William: 12:50 hrs Arrives Mallaig: 15:06 hrs
Departs Mallaig: 17:00 hrs    Arrives Fort William: 18:52 hrs

Why was the Jacobite Steam Train Suspended?

Jacobite Steam Train crossing the Glenfinnan Viaduct

Earlier this year, the train’s operation was halted due to a dispute over safety regulations regarding the train’s vintage carriages. These carriages, which have been used for over 30 years, do not have modern central locking systems, and their operation has relied on special exemptions from the regulators, the Office of Rail and Road (ORR)​.

In December 2023, West Coast Railways lost a High Court challenge against the ORR’s decision. The court supported the ORR’s stance, highlighting safety concerns over the hinged door carriages​​. Following the court case, the ORR withdrew the exception certificate.

The Jacobite could only operate if the vintage carriages were replaced with newer ones that met modern safety standards or the existing vintage coaches were upgraded.

The suspension became headline news, upsetting railway enthusiasts and Potterheads as well as anyone looking to experience one of the World’s great rail journeys.

Magical News!

Jacobite Steam Train Locomotive

In mid-April, there was exciting news. West Coast Railways had sourced a rake of modern Mark 2 carriages that met the safety regulations.

The Hogwarts Express was back on the tracks! At least the morning service was. The afternoon service remained suspended.

In June, the train company announced that it was starting work on retrofitting the existing carriages with central locking. On Monday, 17 June 2024, the afternoon service recommenced.


Jacobite Steam Train Tickets

Both the morning and afternoon train services are operated by train sets that are shorter than the old ones. This means that tickets are not currently being sold to individual passengers as the trains are sold out.

The good news for anyone wanting to experience this magical journey is that Scottish Tours has lots of tours that include a one-way trip on the Jacobite Steam Train.

Jacobite Steam Train

Here is a list of tours that feature the train journey:

Jacobite Steam Train Experience
One-day tour from Edinburgh

Jacobite Steam Train, Glenfinnan and The Highlands
One-day tour from Edinburgh

Jacobite Steam Train Adventure
One-day tour from Inverness

The Jacobite Highlander
Two-day tour from Edinburgh

Isle of Skye and the Jacobite Steam Train
Three-day tour from Edinburgh

Jacobite Steam Train, Skye and the Highlands
Four-day tour from Edinburgh

Jacobite Steam Train at Glenfinnan Station

Road to the Isles
Five-day tour from Edinburgh and Glasgow

Edinburgh, Skye and Jacobite Steam Train Experience
Five-day tour from London

Explore Scotland with Scottish Tours

A ride on the Jacobite Steam Train is just one of the experiences you can enjoy when you travel with Scottish Tours.

Check out our comprehensive selection and book your next Scotland Tour today.