‘Hugely complex’ engineering project to reinstate mountain railway gets underway


BALFOUR Beatty has carried out preparatory works ahead of the £16 million project to reinstate the Cairngorm funicular railway.

Funded by the Scottish Government and Highlands and Islands Enterprise (HIE), the development will strengthen key elements of the railway’s 2km supporting structure – including foundations, piers and beams, and ‘hundreds’ of sliding bearings.

Having completed the preparatory works, Balfour Beatty will now excavate areas around four of the 94 piers that support the structure, with local civil engineering company, McGowan, supplying the equipment.

Reinstating the mountain railway, which has been out of service since 2018, forms a ‘major’ part of a £20 million business case developed by HIE to help sustain Cairngorm as a year-round visitor attraction and an important driver of the local economy.

Douglas Cowan, director of communities and place with HIE, said, “This is a very significant milestone for Cairngorm and it’s fantastic to see these works getting under way. Reinstating the funicular is a hugely complex engineering project in very challenging mountain conditions and the contractors have a limited window of opportunity before extreme winter conditions really start to bite.

“The plan is to keep working for as long as possible during what remains of 2020, then resume as early as we can in the new year. That way, we can continue to keep the project on track to resume the service as planned in winter 2021/22.”