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Cairngorm funicular to remain closed for remainder of winter season

The Cairngorm funicular railway is to remain closed for the remainder of the winter season.

The highly-anticipated announcement comes after operators Highlands and Islands Enterprise (HIE) received the highly anticipated specialist engineers report.

HIE took over operations at the ski centre after CairnGorm Mountain Limited (CML) were placed into administration due to an “unsustainable cash-flow problem”.

A spokesman for HIE said: “We have received the report of the investigation into concerns over the funicular structure and we will publish it in due course.

“We are meeting with the contractor this week to go through the report in detail in order to fully understand its findings and determine next steps.

“In the meantime, we anticipate the funicular will remain out of service for the remainder of the winter season, with ski tows providing alternative uplift when conditions allow.”

The report was expected to initially be delivered by mid-November, with previous operators CML hoping remedial repairs could be conducted to ensure the funicular would be operational for some duration of the winter period.

However, further delays ensued in December due to the complexity of the investigation as weather and high winds caused health and safety issues to engineers conducting the investigative works.

Councillor Bill Lobban.

Councillor Bill Lobban said: “I think this is really what we have all been expecting. It was fairly obvious that the problem wasn’t going to be fixed over the winter period. The concern now shifts to what the problem is and how long it will take to fix that.

“The local community have been expecting it and local businesses have been preparing for the bad news rather than hoping for the best. Local businesses have been working well with the new operator and really they have just been happily getting on with it.”

Mike Gale, of Aviemore Business Association, said: “It is a shame the funicular will remain closed and it does limit the ski area, but it is not a write off – there is still plenty skiing up there to be done.

“They have to look to the future. With no funicular there is the potential for no summer trade which would mean no money going into the hill. We have been saying all along that they need to diversify the business for this exact type of situation.

“We mentioned this four or five years ago and the reality is that we are now in a worse state than we were then.

“There are positives to be taken. Natural retreats are now gone and HIE seem keen to work with the community over community ownership so we can do something with that.”

Mike Dearman, of the Aviemore and Glenmore Community Trust, said: “It’s sad to hear the news that the funicular will not run this season confirmed, but it is not a great surprise.  What customers and the community need most at this point is a clear plan of action for the future, with and without the funicular in place, and AGCT is pushing to get that in place as soon as possible.

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