The operator of the Jacobite steam train has suspended new bookings as it awaits a conclusion to a long-running dispute over the safety of its doors.

West Coast Railways said all afternoon bookings for the Fort William to Mallaig route until June 16 have now been pulled.

The company said passengers will be contacted directly by email and SMS text to inform them of the cancellations and offered refunds.

All new bookings for both the morning and afternoon service have also been suspended.

WCR is currently awaiting a ruling from the Office of Rail and Road (ORR) on whether it can continue to run with hinged-door carriages.

All heritage operators were told several years ago that in order to operate after March 31 2023 they either needed to fit central door locking (CDL) or obtain an exemption from the rail regulator.

The service had operated for more than 30 years under an exemption but following an accident, rail authorities issued further safety advice to operators of carriages which are not centrally controlled or locked by train crew.


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While it awaits a decision, a fleet of shorter carriages which have been fitted with CDL have been running with reduced capacity.

WCR lost a High Court challenge against the ORR over the safety of doors on its carriages in December.

The company had complained that the multimillion-pound cost of having to retrofit central locking could "destroy" its business and argued its door systems were just as safe.

However, a judge dismissed the operator's case and concluded the ORR had taken a "justifiable" approach.

The company said some cash-only seats would be available each day on a 'first-come-first-served' basis in Fort William.

WCR said it is planning to re-start the afternoon service this month but "due to the amount of work necessary to fit the CDL" it could not provide a date.

The Jacobite train featured in the 2002 film Harry Potter And The Chamber Of Secrets as the Hogwarts Express.