CAIRNGORM FUNICULAR: £13.3M TO REMOVE
3rd October 2019 | Jane Peel, Chief Reporter
Last modified on May 7th, 2020
That’s the estimated cost of dismantling the mountain railway. Repairing it will cost around £10 million.
The figures emerged at a meeting in the Scottish Parliament.
The Cairngorm Estate landowner, Highlands and Islands Enterprise, confirmed that it still wants repair rather than remove the railway.
The funicular is the main lift to the top of the mountain for skiers and snowboarders in winter and a popular tourist attraction in summer.
It has been out of action since October 2018 when structural problems were discovered, raising safety fears.
HIE’s current estimate of the potential cost of physically dismantling the funicular railway and reinstating the hillside is up to £13.3m, excluding professional fees.
This is said to be an early assessment relating only to removal of the railway does not cover the cost of any replacement lift.
The cost of repairing the structure is put at roughly £10m.
But HIE says the actual cost will become known only following the detailed design – which will need to be approved by the Department of Transport – and the procurement of a contractor.
“HIE confirmed that its intention is to repair the funicular,” HIE said in a statement.
“However, a final decision cannot be taken until a detailed business case is approved by the Scottish Government.”
The business case is expected to be presented to the Government in December.
HIE says it will consider the alternative option of removing the funicular and will take account of the impact of climate change by exploring the potential to develop Cairngorm further as a year-round attraction.
Scotland’s Auditor General has raised questions about the affordability of repairing the funicular railway on Cairngorm Mountain, saying tough decisions are likely to be needed in the near future.
But HIE said discussions with the Scottish Government had been positive.
“Regarding repair, it was possible that costs could be phased over several years, and there was potential for HIE to use income from the sale of a significant property asset, the Centre for Health Science, Inverness,” HIE said.
It is hoping to begin repair work in May, subject to approval and a contractor being appointed.
“It is just possible that the funicular could be ready to be brought back into service for winter 2020,” it said.
But HIE admitted that this timescale is optimistic.
“This very ambitious timescale represents the shortest possible period for complex repair works to be carried out in extremely challenging mountain conditions.
“The project could well take longer, and a realistic estimate can only be prepared once a contractor is in place.”