It’s all aboard the Hogwarts Express… The heritage locomotive will be allowed to operate despite door-locking controversy.
The Office of Rail and Road (ORR) has issued a three-month exemption, meaning bookings are now open until February 2024.
The service is officially called the Jacobite Express but has been dubbed the Hogwarts Express by Harry Potter fans because of its association with the franchise.
Locking system under review
The news comes days after a judicial review was heard in court, assessing the requirement for a central locking system on heritage trains.
The centuries-old locking system referred to as ‘slam door’ does not conform to modern standards – meaning locomotives such as the Hogwarts Express and Flying Scotsman need an exemption to run.
The exemption is likely to be in place until the findings of the review, according to BBC Scotland.
The train, which is operated by West Coast Railways, runs between Fort William and Mallaig and is said to bring £ 20 million to the Highland economy each year.
‘Hogwarts Express’ can continue until February 2024
People from all over the world make a pilgrimage to see or take a trip on the train.
But rules, introduced in 1999, due to be enforced on the heritage rail line could have brought the train to a standstill.
The future of the Harry Potter or Hogwarts Express – as known by fans – is still in jeopardy. But the move will allow for planning for the 2024 season.
The trains do not run year-round.
Yesterday afternoon, an exemption certificate was issued, meaning bookings can now be taken for 2024.
The service passes over the Glenfinnan Viaduct, attracting thousands of people every day to watch as the steam train pulls over the track.
And for those lucky enough to get a ticket for the train, they are following in the footsteps of their Hogwarts heroes.
The train line appears in blockbuster films Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets, and Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire.
Since 2003, steam trains have been allowed to run passenger services on the main line with an alternative locking system through two ten-year exemptions granted by ORR.
The ORR say the majority of heritage trains have installed the locking system or are planning to do so.