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Trespass warning to tourists at Harry Potter landmark - Scottish Highlands

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At BTP we have many officers and staff who are Harry Potter fans, so when we see visitors at the Glenfinnan viaduct taking photos of the famous Hogwarts Express landmark, we share their enthusiasm.

However, most of these visitors, as far as we are aware, do not have any magical powers, so if they wander onto the railway track, there is nothing to protect them from being injured or killed by a passing train.

Sgt Kevin Lawrence, based at Inverness station, said: “Tourists from all over the world travel on the Jacobite steam train during the summer months to visit the famous Glenfinnan viaduct.

“Alarmingly, visitors often get off the train at Glenfinnan and walk back along the line to take photographs. This is extremely dangerous.

“The scenic, rural area also attracts many bikers and other tourists also travelling by road to see the viaduct.

“When they are caught up in the excitement of their trip, people may not realise that what they are doing is trespassing on the railway, risking the lives of themselves and other people who could be travelling on trains passing through.

“Over the years we have worked with Network Rail to improve fencing and signage in the area to encourage tourists to get to safe vantage points for photographs without accessing the lines.

“We urge everyone to stay off the tracks at all times, and if you see anyone on the tracks while you are at the viaduct, please warn them that it is not safe.

“We want everyone to enjoy visiting this famous attraction safely, so please do not trespass.”

Despite repeated warnings and heart-breaking stories about people who have lost their lives by trespassing on the railway, in Scotland there was a 16 per cent rise in trespass offences in the last year alone.

Sgt Lawrence said: “Much as we love Harry Potter, I would like to remind everyone that we are mere Muggles, and if you trespass on the railway and are struck by a train, the consequences could be extremely serious and probably fatal.”

Research also shows young people are more likely than others to take a risk on the tracks, with seasonal peaks in incidents coinciding with the spring and summer school holidays.

Glenfinnan is not the only area with seasonal trespass problems.

The Lochalsh line from Inverness to Kyle also sees people, particularly during the summer months, risking their lives by walking, cycling or riding on the railway line.

Sgt Lawrence said: “The problems are mainly on the line from Garve, west to Kyle and this tends to be hillwalkers, wild campers or mountain bikers, and sometimes fishermen accessing lochs along the line.

“People need to be aware of the immense danger they are putting themselves in by trespassing on the railway line. One slip, one stumble, one fast moving quiet train, and your life could be gone in a flash. Trespass is not worth the risk.”

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