Why the Hogwarts Express Is the Best Method for Transporting Students
Although there are several methods of transportation in the wizarding world, the Hogwarts Express is used to carry hundreds of students to and from school several times a year. In spite of the fact that alternative magical transportation methods might be more efficient for some students, the train is the best choice overall – and here’s why.
There are numerous benefits to both magical and Muggle students taking the Hogwarts Express. Firstly, as demonstrated by Harry, Hermione, and Ron’s strong friendship, the train is a neutral place to meet and bond with other students. It provides a bridge between the students’ home lives and their time at Hogwarts where they can get to know each other, catch up for a few hours, or have a little bit more fun with their friends before the year officially ends.
“Go on, have a pasty,” said Harry, who had never had anything to share before or, indeed, anyone to share it with. It was a nice feeling, sitting there with Ron, eating their way through all Harry’s pasties, cakes, and candies (the sandwiches lay forgotten). (SS 102)
Hagrid was there to take them down to the fleet of boats that sailed across the lake; they were boarding the Hogwarts Express; talking and laughing as the countryside became greener and tidier; eating Bertie Bott’s Every Flavor Beans as they sped past Muggle towns; pulling off their wizard robes and putting on jackets and coats; pulling into platform nine and three-quarters at King’s Cross station. (SS 307)
For Muggle-borns, a relatively normal train with a magical entrance is a good way of easing them into their magical education. That’s not to mention that dropping off their children at a train station must have been a lot easier for the parents of Muggle-born children instead of attempting a magical method of transportation that they wouldn’t be able to control.
Lily glanced toward her parents, who were looking around the platform with an air of wholehearted enjoyment, drinking in the scene. (DH 669)
Plus, the train was the most practical choice. It would have been incredibly difficult to transport large numbers of students, their luggage, and their pets to and from Hogwarts using magical methods such as the Portkeys. Flying using broomsticks, creatures, or enchanted objects would also have risked being spotted by Muggles. Also, not all students would have enjoyed the experience. Hermione didn’t like flying on a broomstick, and enchanted flying objects might not have been as comfortable as a seated train with delicious food and refreshing drinks.
In addition, it would have been incredibly difficult to organize Portkeys that guaranteed that every student would be able to both find them and make them in time. Side-along Apparition may have been the best option for wizarding families, as long as they avoided all the Anti-Apparition spells surrounding the school, but that still comes with the risk of Splinching or ending up in the wrong place.
The Floo network is used as an emergency method of transportation in Harry Potter and the Order of The Phoenix, but only to transport a handful of people, not hundreds. It would have taken ages to move the entire school. Plus, as demonstrated in Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets, if a nervous student accidentally says the wrong thing, they could end up anywhere.
Any purely magical method would exclude Muggle-borns. The Hogwarts Express is the best way to ensure everybody reaches Hogwarts at the same time on as even footing as possible. Although getting to King’s Cross might be far for non-London-based students, there are excellent transport links available to students from all over the United Kingdom.
Taking into account the practical and emotional reasons, it’s safe to say that the Hogwarts Express is definitely the best transportation method for Hogwarts students.