CAIRNGORM FUNICULAR TO BE REPAIRED
2nd August 2019 | Jane Peel, Chief Reporter
Last modified on May 7th, 2020
The main lift at the Scottish ski resort will be repaired, not replaced. It may be shut for two more winters.
The funicular has been out of action since October when an engineering inspection found structural defects, raising safety concerns.
In July it was confirmed that it would not be fixed and running in time for the ski season.
But the landowner, Highlands and Islands Enterprise (HIE), says the required repairs are “very extensive” but it is cheaper to repair the structure than to demolish it and replace it with another lift.
However, HIE says there is no guarantee that the funicular will be ready for the following 2020-21 winter season either.
The funicular is the main route up to the top of the mountain at 1,097 metres in winter and summer.
Without it, the higher ski runs are reached only by drag lifts.
They can run only if there is sufficient snow cover.
“Our intention is to repair the funicular, subject to final approval from the Scottish Government, and once all the costs are known,” James Gibbs, HIE’s Area Manager for Inner Moray Firth said.
“We have an indicative cost of repairs, which is less than the cost of removing the funicular.
“Releasing this figure at this stage however could prejudice our ability to obtain best value from the procurement.
“We will have an accurate cost of repair once we have concluded the procurement process and obtained all statutory consents.
“We will publish the costs when known, at an appropriate point.”
HIE says very extensive work is needed on the funicular’s supporting structure and bearings.
The repairs must also be co-ordinated with the replacement of the computer control system and other essentials such as bogies, gearbox upgrades and tensioning systems.
These were due for replacement in two years’ time at the 20 year point, but have been brought forward to avoid a second break in the funicular’s operation.
“There is a chance it could be ready for winter 2020-21 but we cannot, right now, say with any certainty that it will be,” James Gibb said.
The process to develop a new master plan for Cairngorm, which will include additional lifts, is due to begin in September.
HIE says it will include a full consultation and input from local communities.
The Aviemore & Glenmore Community Trust is campaigning for a community-takeover of the Cairngorm estate.
It has recently held a public event to answer questions and get feedback on its plans.
“We believe that there are two fundamental issues we need to address to give Cairngorm a positive future,” it says.
“One issue is investment in infrastructure, the second is to heal divisions in the community and unite behind a shared plan for the future which takes into account all groups.
“We hope that these events go some way to starting that process and we continue to keep bringing people together to discuss the issues openly and constructively.
“It clear that with repairs to the funicular not being expected to be completed for at least two more winters, Cairngorm will continue to face huge challenges and we believe its essential that whilst HIE retains ownership, they must be more proactive in sharing their plans for the future of Cairngorm and involving the community in shaping those plans.”
This coming winter the operating company, Cairngorm Mountain (Scotland) Ltd (CMSL), will open the resort for skiing using the existing lifts with snowmaking on the lower slopes in Coire Cas.
The operators are seeking planning permission to move the snow factory further up the hill to a new, permanent location.