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Cairngorm funicular taken out of service just seven months after its return

By Gavin Musgrove

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The Cairngorm funicular returned to service in January, earlier this year, after safety concerns.
The Cairngorm funicular returned to service in January, earlier this year, after safety concerns.

Highlands and Islands Enterprise (HIE) has taken the decision to withdraw the Cairngorm funicular railway from service temporarily while a series of snagging works is carried out.

A 12-month snagging period and inspection programme has been ongoing since the funicular began carrying passengers again in January, following a two-year programme of works to strengthen the 1.7km viaduct that supports the track.

HIE said snagging and inspections are usual practice for major civil engineering projects.

The funicular only returned to service at the end of January after repairs costing around £25m.

The mountain railway had been out of operation for more than four years.

In this latest setback, inspectors earlier this week identified that some of the ‘scarf joint assemblies’ that link the beams at the top of the piers did not meet the required tension.

At a board meeting today, Cairngorm Mountain (Scotland) Ltd (CMSL) agreed with the HIE decision to temporarily withdraw the funicular on the grounds of public safety.

Contractors are due to arrive on site within days to begin work using specialist tensioning equipment.

Susan Smith, CEO of CMSL, said: “We realise this will disappoint our customers but health and safety is always our number one priority and cannot be compromised.”

An HIE spokesperson said: “Everything will be done to return the railway to service as quickly as possible and we will issue updates as soon as the picture becomes clearer.”

No date has been given for the funicular returning to service.

Related article:

Big welcome for the return of the Cairngorm funicular after more than four years

HIE reaches £11m out of court settlement over Cairngorm railway failings

HIE has been contacted for more information.

In the meantime, HIE has said Cairngorm Mountain remains open, with access available to a range of facilities including the café, mountain biking and tube slides.

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