It is no wonder that the Jacobite Train was chosen in one of the most famous, and recent, films on Earth as the Hogwarts Express. The 84-mile round trip train journey that this steam train travels between Fort William and Mallaig, as part of the West Highland Railway Line, is one of the greatest rail journeys in the world.
The route starts near the highest mountain in Britain, Ben Nevis, it wizzed past lochs, including the deepest freshwater loch in Britain, Loch Morar, and the deepest seawater loch in Europe, Loch Nevis. The scenery is nothing but spectacular! The train also crosses the Glenfinnan Viaduct known for its remarkable engineering and made popular by the Harry Potter film. This magnificent landscape comes at a cost; the steep gradients means that powerful steam locomotives are required. The train line still has jointed tracks so the old fashioned chugging of the wheels is still heard onboard and whilst traveling on the Jacobite.
The railway extension to Mallaig, the last stop of the journey from Fort William, opened in 1901. It was amongst the last big lines to be built in Britain, late enough to have its viaducts built of concrete. The service in this line was never more than two or three trains a day for fishermen sending fish boxes and a few dozen travellers back and forth the Hebrides. As it made little economic sense, soon after the route opened, it began to be threatened to shut down.
In 1984, in an attempt to boost tourism, steam locomotives were re-introduced in part of the line and it was so successful that the service continued. In 1995, after the privatization of British Rail, the service was re-named ‘The Jacobite’ and its responsibility passed to West Highlander Trains. In 2001 this train line hit the big screen and its popularity has only grown since. Thought thankfully it hasn’t been commercialised too much and its focus is still whats important: the magnificent journey.