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'No definite timescale' for the return of Cairngorm funicular

By Gavin Musgrove

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The funicular has been beset with problems even after £25m repairs which spanned more than four years.
The funicular has been beset with problems even after £25m repairs which spanned more than four years.

Highlands and Islands Enterprise has said it still cannot provide even a rough date for the return of the Cairngorm mountain railway.

An HIE spokesperson apologised for the continuing absence of the funicular.

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It has not run since August and had only come back into operation at the start of the year after £25m repairs which took more than four years to carry out.

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

The spokesman said: “The main focus of the current works is re-tensioning ‘scarf joints’ that link beams and piers along the 1.7km viaduct, as well as checking tension on beams and diaphragms and carrying out grouting work."

“Everything possible is being done to complete the works as quickly as possible but we are currently unable to put a definite timescale on how much longer this will take.

“We recognise the present situation is disappointing for all those who love Cairngorm and we’re sorry that we’ve had to suspend the funicular service while these works are carried out.”

Cairngorm Mountain (Scotland) Limited (CMSL) has also issued an update on plans for the busy half-term season.

The mountain resort and ski centre will be open seven days a week as usual, weather conditions permitting.

However, with the funicular railway currently out of service, the resort said visitor numbers have to be limited because of safety.

As a result, during the February half term, tickets will be available only via online purchase and will be on a first come, first served basis.

The Snow Factory will continue to produce snow that allows continued operation of the beginners’ zone with guaranteed even snow coverage.

Enjoying some skiing at Cairngorm Mountain. Picture: Paul Masson.
Enjoying some skiing at Cairngorm Mountain. Picture: Paul Masson.

Skiers and snowboarders can easily reach the beginner slopes with the two ‘magic carpet’ conveyor belts and equipment hire remains available, including skis, snowboards, boots, poles and helmets.

The Cairngorm Café and Cas Bar, located in the Day Lodge at the foot of the mountain will be open and both are dog friendly.

When there is full snow coverage, the surface lifts will be operational and the Ptarmigan Building will be open.

Susan Smith, CEO of CMSL, said: “We have been enjoying a busy snowsports season with periods of good snow cover on the mountain, allowing us to maintain an exciting experience for all snowsports enthusiasts, from beginners to expert skiers.

“Highlands and Islands Enterprise owns the land and infrastructure for the resort, while CMSL has the licence to operate the facilities.

"While the funicular is out of service, uplift is limited and the mountain resort will need to operate on reduced capacity for safety reasons.

“We’re sorry to have to restrict numbers but these arrangements are designed to enable as many visitors as possible to enjoy their snowsports safely at Cairngorm while the funicular is out of action.

"However, we have some exciting new plans for the summer season to announce soon.”

The resort offers free parking throughout the winter season in the refurbished main car park and there is also a regular bus service.

Regular updates on operational status and snow cover are available on Cairngorm Mountain’s website and Facebook page.

To find out more visit: www.cairngormmountain.co.uk

Tickets are available here: https://www.cairngormmountain.co.uk/the-ski-area/

Information on the current programme of works on the funicular is updated regularly on the Cairngorm page of the HIE website: https://www.hie.co.uk/cairngorm

Details of the new Aviemore Adventurer bus service: https://www.stagecoachbus.com/promos-and-offers/north-scotland/aviemoreadventurer

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