Cairngorm Ski Area Gets £20.5m Funding Boost

The Scottish ski area near Aviemore is to get more than £20 million to improve the snowsports centre. Most of it will go on repairing the troubled funicular mountain railway.

The money has just been approved by the Scottish government.

Announcing the news today (Friday 9th October), the landowners, Highlands and Islands Enterprise (HIE), said the funicular would be back in service during winter 2021-22.

The UK’s highest railway was the main lift for skiers and snowboarders to the top of the mountain but it has been out of action since autumn 2018 after an inspection revealed major structural problems.

The decision to repair it rather than replace it with other ski lifts is controversial with many regular visitors and locals against it.


The Scottish Government agreed the funding after studying the business plan put forward by HIE.

It means £20.51 million for Cairngorm, £16 million of which will go on the funicular repair.

The rest will go on improvements to the ski centre including the existing lifts, paths and car parking and the electrification of snow cannons.

“We want to unlock the full potential of Cairngorm to make it a destination people can enjoy all year-round, and this significant investment couldn’t come at a better time,” said the Rural Economy Secretary, Fergus Ewing.

“We know our tourism and hospitality sectors have been among the hardest hit by the pandemic and in Badenoch and Strathspey a quarter of the workforce is in the accommodation and food services sectors – more than double the proportion for the Highlands and Islands as a whole.

“By investing in the mountain, we can generate significant economic benefits for the local area and our tourism sector.

“The business case for reinstating the funicular, which HIE has published today, made clear that repair and reinstatement was the preferred option.

“Removal was estimated to cost approximately £17 million and would limit options around seasonal diversification on the mountain.

“The funicular will not only transport thousands of annual visitors up Cairngorm again next winter, it will also bring access to the mountain environment to a broad range of visitors, including children, older people and people with disabilities.”


The Chief Executive of Highlands and Islands Enterprise, Charlotte Wright, said the investment would ensure Cairngorm was ready to welcome thousands of visitors in all seasons.

“With the funicular now set to be reinstated, and a range of other priority investments planned, we can continue to work with local stakeholders to ensure the surrounding business and communities can really begin to unlock Cairngorm’s potential and secure its future for decades to come.”

Balfour Beatty has been appointed as the contractor for the project to repair the funicular.

The business case for reinstating the Cairngorm funicular can be read on the Cairngorm page of the HIE website.