The Hogwarts Express is the name of the train that makes a run between London, King's Cross Station Platform 9¾ and Hogsmeade Station. It makes this run at about six times a year, and probably more often than that, as needed. It carries students to Hogwarts Castle at the start and end of every term. The train leaves Platform 9¾ without fail on 1 September at 11 o'clock in the morning, arriving at Hogsmeade Station in the early evening. Most students take the train back to King's Cross Station to go home for the Christmas and Easter holidays. It also makes the run back again to London at the end of term in June.
It was built in 1936 and was originally steam-fitted, however, by the 1990s it ran exclusively on magic. From the evidence left by early woodcuts and engravings, before the introduction of the Hogwarts Express students used to arrive at school on 1 September in any manner they pleased.
In striking contrast to Britain's National Rail system, the Hogwarts Express takes the form of a large red, 4-6-0 steam engine. It is a magical device, like the Ministry cars, the Knight Bus, and Wizarding Wireless Network. It borrows its form and its intended function from real steam trains, but not the technology.
The passenger carriages contain compartments set off a corridor, allowing each compartment to function as a self-contained stage within the larger train. During the long journey to Hogwarts, students may enjoy treats from a trolley, such as Pumpkin Pasties and Chocolate Frogs. There are usually no adults aboard the Hogwarts Express except the witch with the tea trolley and the driver, and possibly the fireman, who is needed to shovel coal into a locomotives boiler to keep it running, although the shovel and other components may have spells placed on them to perform the tasks without the need for a fireman. Occasionally new teachers (namely, Remus Lupin as well as Horace Slughorn) would be found aboard the train as well.
It was on the Hogwarts Express that Harry first got to know Ron Weasley in 1991, and first met many of the other people who played significant roles in his life, including Hermione Granger, Neville Longbottom, Fred and George Weasley and, in later years, Remus Lupin and Luna Lovegood. The second confrontation between Harry and Draco Malfoy occurred on the train on the way to Hogwarts when Draco sneered at Ron and offered Harry his friendship. Harry turned down Draco's offer abruptly, marking the beginning of a long-standing enmity and hatred between the two boys.
In 1997 the returning Hogwarts students are seen on the train as they are on their way to Hogwarts Death Eaters raided the train to kidnap Luna Lovegood.
Behind the scenes
- During principal photography of Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban, filming was shut down for several days after the train used as the Hogwarts Express was vandalised, costing £3000; the vandals had spray-painted graffiti onto the train. The train was damaged again in March 2007, after filming of Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix was completed. A month was required to repair the locomotive, because of the £50,000 worth of damage, as 337 of its toughened windows were smashed with hammers.
- The school train is traditionally reserved only for students. Only four adults were ever seen travelling on the train: the food trolley lady, the conductor, Remus Lupin and Horace Slughorn.
- In the first five films, the Hogwarts Express is shown to have four coaches. However, in the film version of Harry Potter and the Half Blood Prince, it is shown to have five coaches. The fifth coach differs greatly from the rest, because it has no compartments. The fifth coach may have been added due to the fact that it has a luggage rack, which the other four lacked, the luggage rack was needed so Harry could eavesdrop on a conversation involving Draco Malfoy. It's also possible that its addition might reflect a higher-than-usual enrollment at Hogwarts. However as there are approximately one thousand students at Hogwarts each year each set up shown in the films seems inadequate for the requirements.
- Being an official vehicle of Hogwarts school, it's possible to surmise that it could be considered an extension of the school and thus fall under at least some of its rules and allowances. This may be why rule-abiding Hermione Granger felt free to cast the Oculus Reparo spell on Harry's glasses in the film version of Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone which might have otherwise been a violation of underage magic restrictions.
- There have been several models of the Hogwarts express released, including HO/OO scale models by Bachmann and Hornby, O scale by Lionel, and a new G scale model.
- In the film adaption Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 1, the returning Hogwarts Students are only seen on the Hogwarts Express and not at Hogwarts itself, which is due to the film mainly focusing on Harry, Ron, and Hermione's quest to find and destroy Voldemort's Horcruxes.
- As the only stations the Hogwarts Express is noted as stopping at are King's Cross and Hogsmeade it is unclear if students from Scotland, Wales and more remote parts of England (and possibly Ireland) have to make their way to and from Hogwarts via other means or have to make the trip via King's Cross.
- It is possible it has other stops before reaching King's Cross, but it seems probable that the train only runs from King's Cross to Hogsmeade given that Ron and Harry lived no where near London but used King's Cross.
- The fact that on average there are around one thousand students at Hogwarts each year also poses complications for the Howarts Express being the only method for students to reach Hogwarts. However given the existance of various ways of increasing space within carriages and the fact within the books neither the overall number of carriages the Express pulls nor the length of Platform 9¾ are stated leaves the possibility open.
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