Highlands & Islands

Cairngorm funicular could be shut until summer 2020

Cairngorm funicular Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption The funicular was built at a cost of £26m

The Cairngorm funicular will remain out of service this coming winter, its owners Highlands and Islands Enterprise (HIE) has said.

The UK's highest railway has been out of action since October last year due to structural problems.

HIE, which also owns the Cairngorm Mountain ski centre, near Aviemore, said repairs will not be possible until spring or summer next year.

It said piers, beams and foundations all require to be strengthened.

HIE said a combination of public procurement regulations and extreme weather conditions over winter meant a programme of repairs could not begin any sooner.

While it is not running, snowsports access is planned to be maintained through the coming snowsports season by artificial snow-making at lower levels and ski tows to the higher runs.

HIE and the Scottish government have agreed in principle to having the railway repaired.

Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption The railway was opened in 2001

Douglas Cowan, of HIE, said it was "important to stress" that the agency and the government needed to conclude engineers' reviews and determine costs and funding sources before this can be approved.

Susan Smith, interim chief executive of Cairngorm Mountain (Scotland) Ltd, added: "This has been a difficult period for Cairngorm Mountain, but the staff remain absolutely dedicated to the mountain and the business, and are putting in a tremendous effort to create a brighter future.

"We very much welcome this update, which underlines both the fantastic potential of Cairngorm as a national asset and the importance of the funicular to a successful mountain resort.

"It is absolutely vital that we establish CMSL as a viable business, with strong growth potential and a key role in supporting the wider economy of Badenoch and Strathspey."

Built at a cost of £26m and opened in 2001, the railway connects a base station with a restaurant 1,097m (3,599ft) up Cairn Gorm mountain.

Thousands of people use it, including skiers and snowboarders during the ski season to access slopes.

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