Work has finally started on repairing the stricken funicular railway in the Cairngorms.
Specialist structural engineers are on site at Cairngorm Mountain to carry out further detailed examination of beams that support the mountain railway.
The funicular has been out of action since last October when major structural defects were discovered.
HIE has so far refused to publish an engineers’ report into the repairs required, but confirmed that fixing the funicular would be cheaper than having it removed.
Built at a cost of £26m, the structure connects a base station with a restaurant 1,097m (3,599ft) up Cairn Gorm mountain.
HIE said specialist structural engineers have been carrying out a further detailed examination of issues affecting the beams of the railway, near Aviemore, this week.
Repairs are required to almost half of the railway’s piers.
Almost 300 bearings need to be replaced and joints and connections on beams will have to be reinforced.
The Scottish government will have to approve the repairs once the final cost is known.
Strathspey councillor, Bill Lobban, chairman of the Cairngorm Funicular Working Group, said: “This is part of the ongoing process to provide a fully detailed assessment which will enable Scottish Government to decide on the way forward for Cairngorm.
“Hopefully, we will get the go-ahead for repairs to start in the very near future as our local businesses depend on Cairngorm for a major part of their income.”
The commitment to save the funicular and bring forward ambitious projects to replace carriages and the computer control system has been made by the landowners, Highlands and Islands Enterprise.
The Government agency took over operations last winter following the financial collapse of former operator Natural Retreats.
Spokesman James Gibbs said: “We have an indicative cost of repairs, which is less than the cost of removing the funicular.”
A previous costing for reinstating the mountain to its original condition was put at £30-£50 million.
The long-awaited findings of a major probe into the Cairngorm funicular railway fiasco are being withheld as potential legal action against the previous operator is considered.
HIE took over day-to-day operations following the collapse of Natural Retreats.