CairnGorm Mountain’s funicular railway could be out of action for the whole of the upcoming ski season- as per the Highlands and Islands Enterprise (HIE). The UK’s highest railway has already been closed for about one month due to problems with the structure supporting its tracks.
Early December there will be a report from engineers on their investigation of this issue.
HIE said that the ‘worst case scenario’ would be for the railway to be closed. Obviously this raised alarm bells and is cause of concern on the impact it will have locally.
As the BBC reported: “The development agency has given the warning in an announcement that it is reviewing the resort’s uplift infrastructure, and is investing £1m in a snowmaking machine and snow cannons to guarantee snow at lower levels to help salvage the latest snowsports season”
The funicular brings large volumes of skiers and boarders from the centre’s car parks to the ski areas. Without it, the snowsports enthusiasts need to use three tows from the bottom – the day lodge, car park T-bar and the Fiacaill Ridge tow, but these are slower lifts that carry fewer people.
HIE’s chairman Prof Lorne Crerar said: “An investigation into the concerns is well underway and we eagerly anticipate a report on that in early December, along with plans for any remedial work needed to restore the service.”
On HIE’s investment in snowmaking equipment, Prof Crerar said: “This investment means that, even if the worst case scenario comes to pass and the funicular is out of action for the season, we can still look forward to a season of winter sports at Cairngorm, just as in any other year.
“In addition to getting the funicular back into use, our prime concern now is the impact the closure will be having on operational staff at Cairngorm and on the many local businesses that have strong links to activities on the mountain.
“HIE staff are working with Business Gateway to provide local business support, and that is crucial.”
He added: “We certainly support the acquisition of snowmaking equipment and are determined to have something in place for skiers when the season kicks off.”
Uncertainty over the availability of the funicular has already had negative impacts.
CairnGorm Mountain will not be running its Snow School this season, and the annual Groove CairnGorm dance music festival will not take place next February.
Also Disability Snowsports UK (DSUK) had received a number of inquiries from disabled skiers and their families about what will happen with the Snow School. DSUK is exploring how it can deliver skiing in the Cairngorms without the funicular railway.
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Featured Image: The Cairngorm Mountain’s funicular might not open this coming season. Photo: Cairngorm Mountain
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