Cairngorm Mountain above Aviemore in the Scottish Highlands has re-opened its funicular railway, 4 years and 4 months after it was closed down over safety concerns.

The 2km funicular railway will now run a regular service taking snowsports enthusiasts to the top of the slopes in around 5 minutes. The reinstatement of the railway comes alongside other major improvement works including new ‘magic carpet’ conveyor belts for the beginner slopes, car park improvements and the refurbishment of the Ptarmigan building.

Housing the UK’s highest restaurant, a 270° immersive exhibition space and viewing platform, the Ptarmigan is located at the top station of the mountain railway. The newly designed restaurant has been transformed into a light, contemporary space with an open-plan gin bar, cosy log fire and floor-to-ceiling windows for guests to enjoy the spectacular views of the mountain range.

In the meantime, the cafés and popular shop located at the foot of the mountain, are both open throughout winter and offer outdoor clothing, food and drink by the log burner, and seasonal gifts. The resort as a whole offers year round interest for outdoor enthusiasts and visitors, with plans for the introduction of mountain biking in summer 2023 following on from the new improved visitor experience.

The Cairngorm Mountain Railway is Scotland’s only funicular railway and is the highest in the UK reaching the Ptarmigan building at over 1,065m. The reinstatement works have involved a complex engineering project to strengthen the viaduct and install a new control system, all within the strict environmental requirements of a unique mountain environment. The re-opening comes after rigorous quality and safety testing, including certification and approval by the UK Department of Transport to allow operations to re-commence.

The lift originally opened in 2001 at at a cost of £26 million, with the repair costs coming in at around a further £25m, about 40% more than expected a few years ago. The total spend on the mountain railway has therefore passed £50m over 25 years. Various enquiries are underway to answer the questions that boil down to: “how?” and “why?”

Susan Smith the Chief Executive at Cairngorm Mountain which opened today for snow sports thanks to the snow making machines which have made 96 tonnes of snow a day for the last few weeks…Pic Peter Jolly

“The Cairngorm Mountain team is thrilled to be welcoming snowsports enthusiasts onto the funicular railway once more. The improvements across the resort have brought major changes to the visitor experience and we are so pleased to see the railway transport people to the upper slopes as well as our refurbished Ptarmigan building. Weather permitting and with the hope that our capacity will expand further as the season continues, 2023 promises to be a landmark year for our business, team and local community,” said Susan Smith, CEO of the ski area’s operators.