Harry Potter fans are risking their lives to take photographs of famous Hogwarts Express landmark

The Jacobite steam train passing over the Glenfinnan Viaduct at the head of Loch Shiel, Lochaber, Highlands of Scotland
Picture Credit : Paul Tomkins / VisitScotland
The Jacobite steam train passing over the Glenfinnan Viaduct at the head of Loch Shiel, Lochaber, Highlands of Scotland Picture Credit : Paul Tomkins / VisitScotland

British Transport Police have issued a warning to tourists after they revealed they are putting their lives at risk to get a photograph of the famous Hogwarts Express landmark.

Sergeant Kevin Lawrence, based at Inverness station, said tourists from all over the world travel on the Jacobite steam train during the summer months to visit the famous Glenfinnan viaduct.

Two of the popular wizard movies were filmed at the viaduct with the magical Hogwarts Express calling at Glenfinnan.

Sgt Lawrence said visitors often get off the train at Glenfinnan and walk back along the line to take pictures.

“This is extremely dangerous,” he said.

“The scenic, rural area also attracts many bikers and other tourists also travelling by road to see the viaduct.

“When they are caught up in the excitement of their trip, people may not realise that what they are doing is trespassing on the railway, risking the lives of themselves and other people who could be travelling on trains passing through.”

He said the force has worked with Network Rail over the years to improve fencing and signage in the area to encourage tourists to get to safe vantage points for photographs without accessing the lines.

“We urge everyone to stay off the tracks at all times, and if you see anyone on the tracks while you are at the viaduct, please warn them that it is not safe,” he added.

“We want everyone to enjoy visiting this famous attraction safely, so please do not trespass.”

Despite repeated warnings and heart-breaking stories about people who have lost their lives by trespassing on the railway, in Scotland there was a 16% rise in trespass offences in the last year alone.

Sgt Lawrence said: “Much as we love Harry Potter, I would like to remind everyone that we are mere Muggles, and if you trespass on the railway and are struck by a train, the consequences could be extremely serious and probably fatal.”

Research also shows young people are more likely than others to take a risk on the tracks, with seasonal peaks in incidents coinciding with the spring and summer school holidays.

Glenfinnan is not the only area with seasonal trespass problems.

People, particularly during the summer months, are risking their lives by walking, cycling or riding on the Lochalsh line from Inverness to Kyle.

Sgt Lawrence added: “The problems are mainly on the line from Garve, west to Kyle and this tends to be hillwalkers, wild campers or mountain bikers, and sometimes fishermen accessing lochs along the line.

“People need to be aware of the immense danger they are putting themselves in by trespassing on the railway line. One slip, one stumble, one fast moving quiet train, and your life could be gone in a flash. Trespass is not worth the risk.”

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