RAIL infrastructure chiefs have pledged to carry out works on an iconic Scots tourist attraction four years after an inspection found cracks in the structure.

The Glenfinnan Viaduct is a key feature on the 164-mile long scenic West Highland Line which became famous for taking Harry Potter from Platform 9 and 3/4 all the way to Hogwarts.

Essential repairs and maintenance of the viaduct were identified back in 2019, when ‘fractures’ were detected throughout the structure.

An analysis by the local council considering plans for the viaduct says that through the structure there are "areas of spalling, honeycombing and fractures, with the barrels, piers, spandrels and parapets affected to varying degrees of severity across all spans".

It went on: The most significant defects are the spalled pier corners and arch haunches. Hairline fractures and effervescence are also present throughout the structure."

A November survey of the viaduct, knowns as the Harry Potter bridge also led to an 'urgent defect' report after the discovery of cracking in the Upside Refuge.

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A refuge is a recessed area clear of the tracks where anyone on the bridge can shelter from an oncoming train.

A Network Rail survey report says: ”A vertical fracture runs off a horizontal fracture...to the full length of the refuge.


"The additional concrete support lintel that has been added along the underside of all refuges in recent years is also fractured and displaced in this refuge, indicating further movement.”

Network Rail applied to Highland Council last year to begin work on fixing problems at the A-listed viaduct, near Inverness. They concluded that the proposals would not adversely affect the building's character as a structure of special architectural or historic interest.

They had hoped to start work in April, last year.

A Network Rail spokesman said: "We are currently finalising plans for repair works on the defect.

“The viaduct is regularly inspected and is safe to use. We will also be carrying out additional refurbishment work on the structure next year to keep this iconic viaduct in good condition for years to come.

“In this instance, our engineers have evaluated that the majority of the defects noted in the Freedom of Information request can be addressed during the refurbishment of the viaduct currently planned for next year.

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“The ‘urgent defect’ noted in the FOI will be repaired prior to those main refurbishment works and we are currently putting plans in place to carry that work out.”

Experts at Dundee University’s Concrete Technology Unit had previously been drafted in to study the reason for the concrete’s deterioration - concluded the bridge was suffering from “leaching of calcium” due to water pouring down through supports.

It said this was leading to a “loss of strength relative to other parts of the structure.”

How the Jacobite journey was delivered on the silver screen

The viaduct forms a key part of the good old fashioned Jacobite steam train journey between Fort William and Mallaig which forms part of the scenic West Highland Line which has been keeping the tradition of steam trains alive having disappeared in the early '60s.

It is described as ‘the greatest railway journey in the world’ by operators West Coast Railways.

In 1995 following the privatisation of British Rail, the operating licence for the West Highlander trains was granted to the West Coast Railway Company, and they began operating the service that summer under the new name of The Jacobite.

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It runs a distance of 41 miles, passing through an area of great scenic beauty with the highlight said by many to be the northbound climb to Glenfinnan station across the famous viaduct, set in an amphitheatre of mountains and overlooking the Glenfinnan Monument, erected in 1815 to mark the spot where Bonnie Prince Charlie raised his standard in 1745.

Since 2001, when Warner Bros filmed parts of the Harry Potter films at Glenfinnan, it’s been synonymous with the Hogwarts Express.

The company running the Jacobite service provided Warner Brothers with the train used as the Hogwarts Express in all of the movies and allowed them use of the Jacobite’s route for filming.

The train and parts of its train route were shown in all eight of the fantasy movies.