Highlands & Islands

Problems affecting Cairngorms funicular hits ski school

CairnGorm funicular railway Image copyright PA
Image caption The railway was opened in 2001

CairnGorm Mountain has said it will not operate its Snow School this ski season due to uncertainty over the running of the centre's funicular railway.

The UK's highest railway has been closed for about a month due to problems with the structure supporting the tracks.

A lack of snow for the school's lessons has also played a part in the decision to cancel it this season.

CairnGorm Mountain said it had not taken the decision "lightly".

The situation affecting the funicular is also a factor in the cancellation of next year's dance music event Groove CairnGorm.

'Uncertainty surrounding funicular'

Ewan Kearney, chief operating officer at Natural Retreats, which manages CairnGorm Mountain on behalf of Highlands and Islands Enterprise, confirmed the skiing and snowboarding school had been cancelled for this season.

He said: "The decision not to operate the Snow School this season was not taken lightly and we would like to thank everyone at the Snow School for their hard work and commitment.

"Given the uncertainty surrounding the funicular and the likely knock-on effects to CairnGorm Mountain's carrying capacity, coupled with limited snow cover for lessons, we have made the decision not to operate our own Snow School this winter and focus on supporting the local ski schools in Aviemore.

"We will be listing all local ski schools on the CairnGorm Mountain website."

Groove CairnGorm has been held at the ski centre and Badaguish Outdoor Centre since 2016.

It has featured performances by Basement Jaxx.

The Lafontaines, Niteworks and Spring Break have also appeared at the event.

Engineers' findings

Organisers of the music festival said the event will take a "year off" next February, but hoped to return in 2020.

A spokesman said: "There are number of reasons why we have taken the decision to have a year off in 2019. Obviously the uncertainty of the funicular has played a large part in this."

Thousands of visitors to Aviemore, and the surrounding area, use the funicular to reach a mountainside restaurant and snowsports areas.

Engineers are investigating the problem affecting the funicular.

Highland and Islands Enterprise, which owns the railway and snowsports centre, has said the engineers' findings will not be known until November, and railway will remain closed during that time at least.

Built at a cost of £19.5m and opened in 2001, the railway connects a base station with the restaurant 1,097m (3,599ft) up Cairn Gorm mountain.

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