THE Cairngorm Mountain Railway is set to return to full operation on Thursday following significant engineering works and testing.

The UK Department of Transport has issued safety certificates, enabling Cairngorm Mountain (Scotland) Ltd (CMSL) to bring Scotland’s only funicular railway back into service during the 2023 snowsports season.

Weather permitting, the two kilometre railway will now run a regular service taking snowsport enthusiasts to the top of the slopes in around five minutes.

The railway ascends the northern slopes of Cairn Gorm and serves the area’s ski resort.

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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.

The UK’s highest restaurant, the Ptarmigan, is located at the top station of the mountain railway.

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.

Owned by Highlands and Islands Enterprise (HIE) and operated by the Cairngorm Mountain team, the railway makes the mountain environment more accessible.

Head of property and infrastructure with HIE Dave Macleod said: “It’s wonderful to see the mountain railway back in action again.

“This will make a huge improvement to the customer experience at Cairngorm and strengthen the appeal of the wider area to attract visitors throughout the year.

“Reinstating the funicular has been uniquely challenging, not only in engineering terms, but also for the care that had to be taken to protect the environment during these works while also contending with some of the most severe and changeable weather that Scotland has to offer.

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“Cairngorm plays an important role in the local economy as an environmental, educational and sporting asset and the funicular will enable people across a huge range of ages and abilities to enjoy the mountain not only in winter, but every season.”

The reinstatement works have involved a complex engineering project to strengthen the viaduct and install a new control system, all within the strict requirements of a mountain environment.

CEO of CMSL Susan Smith said: “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.”