Funicular reinstatement takes the HIE road


Authorities in Scotland will spend more than £16m to reinstate Scotland’s only funicular railway, as part of a £20.5m package to make Cairn Gorm a year-round attraction.

Balfour Beatty has been appointed as the contractor for the project.

The cash from the Scottish Government and Highlands and Islands Enterprise (HIE) aims to bring the railway back into service during winter 2021-22.

The funicular in 2017

Officials said the decision to reinstate the funicular was taken following a detailed options appraisal that also considered replacing it with alternative uplift infrastructure, or removing it entirely.

Rural economy secretary Fergus Ewing said: ‘We want to unlock the full potential of Cairn Gorm to make it a destination people can enjoy all year-round, and this significant investment couldn’t come at a better time.

‘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 £17m and would limit options around seasonal diversification on the mountain.

'The funicular will not only transport thousands of annual visitors up Cairn Gorm 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.'

Initial work to strengthen the 2km structure, which has been out of action since 2018, is expected to start later this month.

Officials said that, once up and running, the funicular is expected to attract thousands of visitors a year, generating benefits for the wider economy in Badenoch and Strathspey, where the tourism and hospitality sectors have been hit hard by coronavirus (COVID-19).

A further £4.35m has been approved for potential additional capital requirements including building improvements, electrification of snow cannons, existing tow infrastructure, paths and car parking.

The Scottish Government is making a capital contribution of £10.16m towards the overall package while HIE will contribute £10.35m.

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