Is there a canon answer that explains how the Hogwarts Express was put into service?

  • Gabe's answer is definitely the better one, despite being slightly later. Reconsider acceptance, maybe? – Valorum Nov 2 '16 at 10:30

Per Pottemore's article on the Hogwarts Express, it was originally a Muggle train (Exact origin was never proven). It has been magically altered, however, so it's absolutely canonically verifiably a Muggle train with enchantments.

You'll have to sign up for Pottermore to read the article from J.K.R., as it's copyright protected, and I'm not sure how much I could legally copy here.

  • 3
    Fair use still allows reposting of copyright protected works, as long as you don't post unnecessarily long excerpts, and provide credit to the source. If you'd still rather not, I will provide the quote. – Gabe Willard May 1 '12 at 4:51
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    True, but in this case, the quotes necessary are far too precious to spoil. It's pure JKR wit. I added a tiny bit, though. – David Stratton May 1 '12 at 4:59
  • @GabeWillard Fair use is what's considered 'affirmative defense' In that you say you've done something illegal, but it's ok for reason's you defend. At least this is my understanding, and why I'm wary to use the term. I am not a lawyer. – AncientSwordRage May 1 '12 at 9:18
  • Fair Use might protect me, but the content of Pottermore is meant to be exclusive, as defined in the terms of use. Keeping that site membership is more important to me than points on this site, so if I lose a few points for erring on the side of abiding by the rules of that site, so be it. Besides, why ruin it for others who haven't had the chance to go through it? – David Stratton May 1 '12 at 11:45
  • But that's not what Pottermore rules say. Subscribers agree to “ensure that […] all information provided by [them] via Pottermore is accurate, true and up to date in all respects and at all times and is not misleading in any way” and not to “make commercial use of [user-generated] content”. That's what Pottermore rules say regarding dissemination of information from the site. There is no nondisclosure clause in their ToS, and there is no exclusivity clause in the information presented on the site. – Gabe Willard May 1 '12 at 18:00

As David Stratton mentioned, J K Rowling's article on Pottermore regarding the Hogwarts Express mentions the origins of the train:

"A daring and controversial solution to the thorny problem was finally suggested by Minister for Magic Ottaline Gambol, who was much intrigued by Muggle inventions and saw the potential in trains. Where exactly the Hogwarts Express came from has never been conclusively proven"

Later, it confirms that enchantments were placed on it:

"The Hogwarts Express underwent several magical modifications before the Ministry approved it for school use."


I think the Hogwarts Express is a regular train with enchantments, because it has all features of a normal train and it uses the normal railway-system.

  • 1
    Platform 9 3/4 isn't part of any normal railway system I've ever met... – Martha Apr 30 '12 at 14:09
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    Did you run straight into the wall between platforms 9 and 10? – Xantec Apr 30 '12 at 14:28

A Muggle train with modifications

According to Pottermore, the train was stolen from a Muggle rail company in Crewe:

Where exactly the Hogwarts Express came from has never been conclusively proven, although it is a fact that there are secret records at the Ministry of Magic detailing a mass operation involving one hundred and sixty-seven Memory Charms and the largest ever mass Concealment Charm performed in Britain. The morning after these alleged crimes, a gleaming scarlet steam engine and carriages astounded the villagers of Hogsmeade (who had also not realised they had a railway station), while several bemused Muggle railway workers down in Crewe spent the rest of the year grappling with the uncomfortable feeling that they had mislaid something important.

That said, the train is certainly far more than a mundane Muggle conveyance, as we see in Harry Potter and the Cursed Child.

The TROLLEY WITCH’s hands transfigure into very sharp spikes. She smiles.

TROLLEY WITCH: So please retake your seats for the remainder of the journey.

ALBUS: You were right, Scorpius. This train is magical.


There doesn't seem to be too many large scale enchantments that exist merely to simulate the functions of something real. Magic users didn't enchant themselves a whole house, or a bus, or a motorcycle, or a sword. Material stuff is built, then enchanted to be enhanced, in Harry Potter universe.

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