Balfour Beatty deliver strengthening works on the Cairngorm funicular railway

Balfour Beatty New SK

Balfour Beatty have completed initial works to strengthen the 2km structure, which has been out of action since 2018. Once reopened, the funicular is expected to attract thousands of visitors a year, generating benefits for the wider economy in Badenoch and Strathspey, where the tourism and hospitality sectors have been hit hard by Covid-19.

Cairngorm Funicular

The Cairngorm funicular opened in 2001 and is the highest railway in the United Kingdom, operating between 635 and 1097 metres Above Ordnance Datum (AOD). The 2-kilometre-long funicular ascends the northern slopes of Cairn Gorm - the UK’s sixth-highest mountain - providing mountain access for the public, tourists and sports enthusiasts. The site is located within the Cairngorms National Park and is in public ownership through Highlands and Islands Enterprise (HIE).

Cairngorm Funicular 1

Introducing a range of measures to ensure compliance with guidelines from the Construction Environmental Management Plan (CEMP) and on-site Ecological Clerk of Works (ECoW). The works included the upgrade of existing access points and installation of temporary access tracks, plant movements and the use of wide-tracked excavators to reinstate natural habitats, peatland and vegetation.

Appointed by Balfour Beatty, the works were carried out by McGowan who arrived on-site in April 2021 and despite working through the Spring and Summer months, conditions still proved to be challenging and the project team even had snow to contend with in late May. Installing structural concrete on a mountain with limited access roads was also a challenge but one that was overcome through detailed project planning and by utilising specialist equipment to allow pours on site. This creative approach allowed Balfour Beatty and McGowan to strengthen the existing structural piers and install new foundations for pinning others.