Planning application for Cairngorm funicular repairs

  • Published
Cairngorm funicularImage source, Getty Images
Image caption,
The railway connects a base station with a mountainside restaurant

A planning application has been submitted for repairs to the UK's highest railway.

The Cairngorm funicular has been closed since September 2018 due to structural problems.

Highlands and Islands Enterprise (HIE), which owns the mountain railway, said a final cost and timescale for the repairs had still be calculated.

Permission has been sought for the installation of supports to strengthen the funicular.

The railway, which was opened in 2001 at a final cost of £26m, connects a base station with a restaurant and wider ski centre, 1,097m (3,599ft) up Cairn Gorm mountain near Aviemore.

HIE said the planned work would return the railway to full operational use, but added that decisions still had to be taken on the final business case for the repairs and available funding.

The development agency has previously estimated repairs to run to £10m and more than £13m to scrap and remove the structure.

Image source, Getty Images
Image caption,
The Cairngorm funicular railway has been closed since September 2018

Removing or fixing the railway is complicated because it will have to be done in a way that minimises impact on Cairn Gorm mountain - a 1,245m (4,084ft) Munro and one of Scotland's best known summits.

A helicopter was used to deliver building materials to the mountainside during the construction of the railway.

The planning application, which has not yet been made publicly available, has been submitted to Highland Council and Cairngorm National Park Authority.

Last August, HIE said repairs were required to almost half of the railway's piers, almost 300 bearings need to be replaced and joints and connections on beams need to be reinforced.

Carroll Buxton, interim chief executive at HIE, said the preparation of the planning application had been a "very complex process".

She said: "We have always said we are keen to restore the funicular to normal operations, subject to approval of the final businesses case and availability of funding.

"However, we need to have all necessary consents in place before any works can begin, which is why we have applied for planning consent now."

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