THE famous Jacobite steam train is set to return to service next week after being suspended over safety concerns.

Last month, West Coast Railways (WCR) announced the suspension of the train - made famous by the Harry Potter films - while seeking an exemption from a rule which bans rolling stock with hinged doors and no central locking system.

The Office of Rail and Road (ORR) claimed it was "disappointed that WCR appears not to have made sensible contingency plans" for customers after warnings a suspension would take place.

But WCR has now said its service will return on Monday, April 15, with new safety measures in place.

READ MORE: John Curtice: Labour's chances in key seat won't be harmed by race row

However, the organisation has said "slightly shorter" trains will run with a reduced capacity and the service "might not be able to accommodate all passengers" who initially booked.

Lochaber MSP Kate Forbes called on ORR and WCR to get around the table and ensure The Jacobite could return to service as quickly as possible after The National revealed the suspension was hurting the local economy.

The train runs between Mallaig and Fort William, crossing the Glenfinnan Viaduct, and has become one of the top tourist attractions in the country. 

A statement from WCR read: “We are delighted to announce that our world-famous Jacobite service is back up and running, starting on Monday, April 15.

The National: The Jacobite steam train, by Sebastian Sienko

“The team has done an exceptional job in getting a fleet of carriages ready to kick-start our 2024 season. 

“We will continue to engage with both the ORR and Department for Transport with a request for the temporary exemption so that we can operate our full heritage carriages on the main line.”

Re-bookings will now be accepted on a first come first served basis and based on the date of their initial booking.

The statement continued: “We will contact all passengers affected by the reduced capacity over the coming days with any available options.

“To ensure clarity we will also send out confirmation emails to all passengers who are able to travel with us.

READ MORE: Anas Sarwar red-faced after Scottish town geography blunder

“We look forward to welcoming passengers on board.”

WCR has been challenging demands for central locking systems to be fitted to carriage doors. Its last application for an exemption to these rules – which has been granted several times before –failed last year but it was given a temporary exemption by ORR while it made a claim for a judicial review, which ended up unsuccessful.

The ORR has said it now looking at the latest application from WCR made on March 8 but has said it could take up to four months for this to be assessed.

WCR has advised that the Jacobite 2024 season is currently unavailable for new bookings with updates regarding reopening to be shared on its website .