Cairngorm update

Cairngorm is very much open for business and plans are underway to ensure the hill is ready to welcome snowsports enthusiasts when the snow arrives.

The new response team, set up to address the potential impact of the current closure of the funicular railway, held its first meeting on 10 October.

Chaired by The Highland Council convener, Cllr Bill Lobban, the group includes key stakeholders and public sector organisations.

All partners recognised the significant importance of Cairngorm to the local economy. They agreed to pull together to ensure its success as a year-round visitor attraction, both now and in the longer term.

HIE and The Highland Council committed to support local businesses affected by the situation, through one-to-one advice and potential access to loan funding through Highland Opportunity. We are working with Business Gateway in holding business adviser sessions at the Aviemore Leisure and Community Centre on 29 October and 1 November.

We are also working with operator, CairnGorm Mountain Ltd (CML), to deliver the best possible skier experience without the funicular.

This includes exploring the acquisition of snowmaking technology at lower levels to enable the ski tows to operate when there is snow in the higher slopes but not lower down. It would also make the mountain more accessible for beginners and reduce congestion in other high traffic areas.

Meanwhile the detailed structural investigation of the Cairngorm funicular is well underway. Some of the foundations for the structures supporting the tracks have been excavated for inspection.

This follows an issue raised in the annual engineer’s inspection of the funicular, concerning sliding plates and Ancon bearings. These are positioned between concrete parts of the structure to allow expansion in different temperatures.

A report of the investigation is expected in early December. We will then be able to determine what remedial works are required to bring the funicular back into service and how long this is likely to take.

In the next few weeks we hope to be able to publish the initial findings of the major review of all uplift infrastructure at Cairngorm. This will help steer future investment in the resort as part of the wider plan to create a world-class year-round attraction.

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