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Repairs being stepped up on the Cairngorm funicular from today

By Gavin Musgrove

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The Cairngorm funicular has not run since last August.
The Cairngorm funicular has not run since last August.

A programme of remedial works to bring Scotland’s only funicular railway back into service at Cairngorm Mountain is entering a new phase from today.

With the snowsports season now over, multiple teams from contractor Balfour Beatty, appointed by Cairngorm Estate owner Highlands and Islands Enterprise (HIE), are set to be deployed on the mountainside.

HIE bosses have said a prime area of focus will be hundreds of ‘scarf joints’ linking beams and piers along the 1.7km viaduct.

These were installed as part of a major reinstatement programme that ran for just over two years from November 2020.

In addition, testing is under way on tensioning works to beams and diaphragms that were also installed as part of the reinstatement programme and remedial action will be taken as required.

The funicular was initially withdrawn over safety concerns in October 2018, but came back into service in January 2023.

Balfour Beatty is bring additional workers on site from today.
Balfour Beatty is bring additional workers on site from today.

In August of that year, however, the service was again stopped after several scarf joints were found to be below the specified tension.

It has not run at all this winter and has meant that snow in the top Ptarmigan bowl - a learners’ area - has been out of reach to novices unable to use the other uplift.

Hector MacAulay, managing director of Balfour Beatty’s regional business in Scotland, said: “We are working hard to complete this programme of remedial works as quickly as possible, deploying multiple teams simultaneously to safely reinstate this unique attraction and resume service before the next winter snowsports season.”

Stuart Black, HIE chief executive, said: “Balfour Beatty’s commitment to concluding these important works over the coming months is very welcome.

“This is still a challenging period for Cairngorm and we want to thank all the loyal supporters who continue to visit and enjoy all that the mountain estate has to offer throughout the year while work is ongoing to bring the funicular back.”

The funicular viaduct is essentially a series of 94 linked bridges of varying heights, supporting a railway that ascends Cairn Gorm to an altitude of over 1,000m.

Originally opened in 2001, it operates two carriages carrying visitors between the Cairngorm base station and Ptarmigan building, which houses a restaurant, shop, exhibition and viewing platform.

During winter, it is the main form of uplift to enable skiers and snowboarders to access higher parts of the mountain.

Cairngorm Mountain remains open while the programme of remedial works is under way, offering a range of family-friendly activities and catering choices in a stunning natural environment.

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