The Harry Potter steam train will begin summer trips next month - despite the Coronavirus outbreak.

The Jacobite steam train, which featured in the film series, offers seasonal trips between Fort William and Malliag, Scottish Highlands.

And its daily service is set to go ahead as planned on April 6.

Operator West Coast Railways (WCR) made the announcement today, with services set to operate until September 27.

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Jeanette Snape, WRC managing director, said cleaning measures would be stepped up and all train crew would be temperature tested before departure.

But the decision to run the Jacobite service was slammed by rail campaigners.

Doug Carmichael, chairman of the Friends of the West Highland Lines campaign group attacked the move.

He said: “Personally, I think this is a bad decision on the part of the operator.

“The close passenger confinement in the coaches (built in the 1960s) along with only one toilet per coach and old-fashioned surfaces combines to make it conducive to potential spreading of the virus very easily.”

WCR confirmed some passengers had cancelled their tickets, but said bookings were “still quite high”.

Passengers who have already booked are being offered gift cards if they wish to change to another date over the next 12 months.

Ms Snape said: “The health and wellbeing of our guests and crew is of paramount importance to us.

“Our train will undergo a thorough clean before departing our home depot by a team of experienced cleaners.

“Once out on the rails, the onboard team follow comprehensive opening and closing down procedures which involve wiping down all surfaces including tables, door handles and grab rails.

“Our lead and second stewards have accredited qualifications over and above mandatory requirements and have recently received infection control awareness training in response to the recent outbreak.”

A WCR spokesman added: “There is currently no change to government advice for train travel within the UK, although we continue to monitor things.

“So this magical steam train won’t be hitting the buffers.

“But we are taking every precaution to ensure the health and wellbeing of both our passengers and crew.

“We are planning to carry on running the twice-daily service through some of Scotland’s most stunning scenery during the summer.”

A spokesman for national tourism agency VisitScotland said: “The situation in Scotland with regards to Covid-19 is developing every day.

“We’d recommend businesses follow the Government’s advice but at this stage, there are no restrictions to train travel.”

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The luxury Northern Belle train’s Mother’s Day lunch trip from Glasgow and Edinburgh on Saturday (March 21) will also go ahead.

However, the Bo’ness and Kinneil Railway, near Falkirk, said it would not open for three months.

A spokesman said: “It is with regret that in light of the #covid19UK pandemic we will not be opening the railway or Museum of Scottish Railways to visitors before the end of June.

“This includes the station buffet, gift shop, model railway and visitor trail.”