Calls for inquiry into £25m repair costs for Cairngorm funicular railway

Highlands and Islands Conservative MSP Edward Mountain claims HIE have failed to provide answers about the problems.

A Highland MSP is calling for a public inquiry into the failings of the government agency-owned Cairngorm funicular railway.

The highest railway in the UK reopened in January 2023 after four years of repairs costing £25m – more than the initial cost of building the line – but shut down again in August.

Highlands and Islands Conservative MSP Edward Mountain is among those frustrated by the situation.

He says its guardians, the development agency Highlands and Islands Enterprise (HIE), have failed to provide answers about the problems – and that staff at Cairngorm Mountain, which runs the facility, are also in the dark.

Mr Mountain said: “We were promised the mountain was going to be open before this skiing season and we’ve had some great snow, from the beginning of December up on top of the mountain, but couldn’t access it.

“It means the 15,000-odd skiiers that we’ve had are much less than we should have had and that means businesses across the whole of Speyside have suffered.”

Cairngorm funicular.Getty Images

He believes a public inquiry is the way forward because he says it would identify the problems.

“This trashes the reputation of the resort,” Mr Mountain added. “We want to welcome people into Aviemore. We’ve got all the facilities, we’ve got the shops that can hire skis. We’ve got the ski instructors there and they’re all sitting, waiting for this asset to be used again.”

A spokesman for HIE confirmed the budget for the repairs is £25m, funded by the Scottish Government and HIE.

The cost of carrying out the present remedial works is currently being borne by the contractor, Balfour Beatty.

He said: “We share the disappointment and frustration felt by many local people and all visitors to Cairngorm while the funicular remains out of service.

“Although there is no reopening date at present, we are working closely with Balfour Beatty who are progressing these works and will provide a clearer update as soon as possible.”

HIE is also incurring costs for associated services including project management, as well as meeting costs arising in the operating company as a result of the funicular not operating.

Highland Council has been contacted for comment.

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