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Balfour Beatty is to reinstate Scotland’s only funicular railway as part of a £20m project to make Cairn Gorm a year-round tourist attraction.
A total of £16m from the total investment funded by the
Scottish Government and Highlands and Islands Enterprise (HIE) will be used to reinstate
the railway and bring it back into service during winter 2021-22.
Initial work to strengthen the 2km structure, which has been
out of action since 2018, is expected to start later this month.
A further £4.35m has been approved for potential additional
capital requirements including building improvements, electrification of snow
cannons, existing tow infrastructure, paths and car parking.
The investment is separate to the long-term masterplan to
maximise Cairn Gorm’s potential as both an environmental and economic asset for
Rural economy secretary Fergus Ewing said: “We know our tourism and hospitality sectors have been among the hardest hit by the pandemic and in Badenoch and Strathspey a quarter of the workforce is in the accommodation and food services sectors – more than double the proportion for the Highlands and Islands as a whole. By investing in the mountain we can generate significant economic benefits for the local area and our tourism sector.
“The business case for reinstating the funicular, which HIE
has published today, made clear that repair and reinstatement was the preferred
option. Removal was estimated to cost approximately £17 million and would
limit options around seasonal diversification on the mountain.
“The funicular will not only transport thousands of annual
visitors up Cairn Gorm again next winter, it will also bring access to the
mountain environment to a broad range of visitors, including children, older
people and people with disabilities.”