Work on the troubled Cairngorm funicular railway will finally begin in May – operators revealed yesterday – as a new attraction on the mountain was officially launched to boost tourism.
Works to bring the mountain railway at the famous ski resort back into action are coming on apace, with the cabinet secretary for rural economy, Fergus Ewing MSP showing support for the Highland destination at a visit.
Mr Ewing, who officially opened The Cairngorm Story, said the exhibition will provide an “unmissable” opportunity for the local community and visitors to the Strathspey and Badenoch area.
The exhibition is located at the base station of the mountain and tells the story of the Cairngorms – its wildlife, mountains, the unique natural environment and highlighting the achievements of mountaineers, Olympians, photographers, writers and artists from the area.
Mr Ewing was shown around the exhibition by Susan Smith, interim chief executive of Cairngorm Mountain (Scotland) Ltd (CMSL) and CMSL chairman, Peter Mearns, who explained that the board and staff are working hard to turn the mountain into a sustainable, year-round visitor attraction.
Mr Ewing said: “The unmissable exhibition plus a new play park and improvements to the facilities on offer on the mountain make it an increasingly attractive place for families to visit during the summer months.”
A spokesman for landowners Highlands and Islands Enterprise said: “Ultimately, our goal is to get the funicular repaired and back in service as quickly as possible.
“The peer review process that we’re following with two highly experienced engineering companies is extremely thorough and progressing well.
“Concept design solutions are currently being prepared and will be used to inform a detailed design which will be presented to the Scottish Government for consent when ready.
“It isn’t possible to give exact timescales at this point. However, provided Scottish Government approval is received and we achieve planning permission and other regulatory consents, we’re hopeful that repair works could get started next May.
“After a contractor is appointed, we’ll then be in a position to forecast how long these works are likely to take to complete.
“It’s important to stress that, providing we see sufficient snowfall at Cairngorm this year, the resort will be open to skiers and other snowsports enthusiasts.
“We’ve invested in artificial snow making at lower levels, and ski tows will be able to take experienced skiers to the upper slopes.”