General HIE news

Cairngorm funicular closed for further inspection

The Cairngorm funicular railway has stopped operating as a safety precaution, while further investigations are carried out into new concerns raised in a recent routine inspection.

The concerns relate to structures supporting the track. Engineers recommended a reduced service be implemented until this is investigated fully and any remedial work carried out.

They further recommended a number of operation limiting procedures including temperature, windspeed and the load on the train.

Cairngorm Estate, including the funicular, is owned by Highlands and Islands Enterprise (HIE). The resort and its infrastructure is leased and run by commercial operator, CairnGorm Mountain Limited (CML).

HIE and CML have commissioned specialist engineers to carry out a detailed structural assessment of the area of concern. This will specify what work is needed to bring the funicular back into operation.

This investigation will last several weeks, during which the funicular will remain closed. The work will include excavation to enable the inspection of foundations around the area of concern.

The extended period of closure of the funicular will cause inconvenience for people using the facility. It will also have serious implications for CML’s commercial operation of the business, as the funicular is the integral part of the visitor experience throughout the year.

Ewan Kearney, Chief Operating Officer at CairnGorm Mountain said:

“As operators of such a unique visitor attraction as the funicular, we take our responsibility and duty of care to the public and our staff extremely seriously. It is in everybody’s best interests to close the funicular to allow the engineers to conduct their investigation. Our priority is to get a clear picture of any faults with the funicular in order to develop a course of action that addresses these concerns.

“Rest assured, we do not underestimate the significance of this situation to the entire local area, including our own employees, and are working to resolve this situation quickly and safely, for the future benefit of all mountain visitors.

“At this stage, we are unable to provide a detailed timeline for the re-opening of the funicular and will issue further updates as we are able to do so.”

Susan Smith, HIE’s head of business development, said:

“This is a highly regrettable situation, over which we have very limited control.

“Clearly it will have a considerable impact on the commercial operations on Cairngorm, and be of concern to those employed at the resort. Our thoughts are very much with them as well as those who use the mountain and its facilities.

“We are treating this as extremely urgent and doing all we can to address the problem and have the funicular returned to full service as quickly as possible.

“In the meantime, safety must come first and we fully respect CML’s decision to act on the precautionary advice of the inspectors.”

The findings of the detailed investigations are expected in November. This should also confirm what remedial work is necessary and how long that is likely to take to complete.

Note - 

A report following inspection of the Cairngorm Funicular was delivered to CML on 28 August 2018 and copied to HIE on 3 September. Restrictions to funicular service were introduced on 5 September and on 10 September, specialist contractor COWI, was appointed to carry out the detailed investigation, which is now underway.

Every year following the winter season specialist engineering company, ADAC, carries out a detailed inspection of the Funicular railway. Last year this identified a serious issue with one of the beams, the repair of which was completed in September of 2017.

Further information is available at www.hie.co.uk/cairngorm-faq 

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