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Cairngorm Funicular Repairs Underway

Engineering works designed to get the mountain railway at the Scottish ski area up and running for next winter are starting this week.

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The 2 kilometre long lift that takes skiers and snowboarders from the base station to the top of the ski area has been out of action since September 2018 when a structural inspection raised safety concerns.

The £16m repair project is funded by the Scottish Government and the landowner Highlands and Islands Enterprise (HIE).

It forms the bulk of the investment in the resort that has recently been approved by the government, though not everyone is happy that the funicular is being repaired.

Some regular skiers and snowboarders and local businesses wanted the funicular to be scrapped and replaced with new lifts.

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Some preparatory work was carried out last week, including marking out areas designated for environmental protection.

This week, the team is starting to excavate around four of the 94 supporting piers.

The work will strengthen key elements of the railway’s supporting structure, including foundations, piers and beams, as well as replacing hundreds of sliding bearings.

The mountain will remain open to visitors during the work.

The funicular is the highest railway in the UK and is used in both winter and summer to take passengers to the top of Cairngorm Mountain.

“This is a very significant milestone for Cairngorm and it’s fantastic to see these works getting under way,” said Douglas Cowan, director of communities and place with HIE.

“Reinstating the funicular is a hugely complex engineering project in very challenging mountain conditions and the contractors have a limited window of opportunity before extreme winter conditions really start to bite.

“The plan is to keep working for as long as possible during what remains of 2020, then resume as early as we can in the new year. That way, we can continue to keep the project on track to resume the service as planned in winter 2021/22.”

Highlands and Islands Enterprise says reinstating the funicular, which was opened in 2001, forms a major part of its plan to sustain Cairngorm as a year-round visitor attraction.

The news was released after some early snowfall on Cairngorm Mountain.

Cairngorm, and the rest of Scotland’s five mountain resorts, could attract increased numbers of snowsports fans from the UK this winter, if travel to the Alps, Pyrenees and beyond proves impossible due to the coronavirus.

 

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