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While visiting Scotland in September 2015 we headed to Fort William to try and capture the majestic Jacobite train as it made its way from Fort William to Mallaig
The Mallaig Extension of the West Highland Railway opened in 1901 and was operated by the North British Railway. It was intended to help open up this rural and remote part of the Scottish Atlantic coast, and the building of the line was heavily subsidized by the British Government. It became part of the London and North Eastern Railway at the Grouping in 1923, and British Railways at Nationalization in 1948.
Regular steam services over the West Highland Line were withdrawn in 1967, in line with the British Rail Modernization Plan that outlined the replacement of all steam locomotives with more efficient and reliable diesel locomotives.
In 1984, British Rail re-introduced a steam-hauled service over part of the line, in an effort to encourage tourism and boost income on the heavily subsidized line. Called the “West Highlander”, it proved so successful that it was continued for subsequent years. It was later renamed “The Lochaber”.
The Jacobite at Fort William station
In 1995 following the privatization of British Rail, the operating license 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” (after the historic Jacobite political movement which has many local connections).
The daily service departs Fort William at 10.15am and arrives at Mallaig at 12.25pm. The Return from Mallaig departs at 2.10pm arriving back into Fort William at 4pm. The service crosses the additional afternoon train at Glenfinnan on Mondays to Fridays and this is the only regular crossing of two steam services passing each other on the national network.
In 2011, for the first time, train operator West Coast Railway Company added a second daily Jacobite service from Fort William to Mallaig due to demand, using Ian Riley’s Black 5 44871 and a spare set of coaches that were formerly used for “The Cambrian”. The additional service departs Fort William at 2.30pm with an arrival time back in Fort William of 8.24pm and runs from June to August, Monday to Friday. 
The future of the Jacobite service was thrown into doubt in 2015 by the complete suspension of West Coast Railways’ train operating company license. The ban was lifted on May 8th 2015, allowing the Jacobite service to continue.
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