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Minister welcomes debate on Cairngorm funicular and its closed system

By Gavin Musgrove

The possible review of the closed system at the top of Cairngorm Mountain has been welcomed by the Scottish minister responsible for the rural economy.

The Strathy revealed today that access to the Cairngorm plateau is likely to form part of the upcoming masterplan consultation on the way forward for the struggling business.

The question concerning the closed-system - which prevents funicular passengers from exiting the Ptarmigan top station for most of the year - appears in a pre-consultation survey circulated to certain bodies by the consultants leading the masterplanning process.

Fergus Ewing, Scottish Cabinet Secretary for Rural Economy and whose remit includes the country's ski resorts
Fergus Ewing, Scottish Cabinet Secretary for Rural Economy and whose remit includes the country's ski resorts

Mr Ewing, who is also MSP for Strathspey (SNP), told the Strathy: "I welcome the taking of views on this matter. I look forward to seeing the upshot of this survey of local opinion

"I would point out that the closed system has been relaxed over the years to enable more freedoms.

"This has been a gradual process and one I expect to continue. I have welcomed these relaxations."

Mr Ewing, whose portfolio includes responsibility for Scotland's ski centres, said: "It will be essential to see more all year round activity - and that we encourage further growth of cross-country skiing

"Everyone accepts that the Cairngorms are a very special place and there are of course other environmental protections in place.

"I am particularly interested in all the views of those who know the hill the best – including a great many skiers climbers, walkers, mountain rescue team members, the people who work or have worked on the hill and the many professionals who match their prowess in snowsports or mountaineering with a deep affection for the Cairngorms

"It is right there should be a good debate on the future of the funicular and how it can best be used for all year round enjoyment and recreation."

The closed system has been criticised by some as a key reason why visitor numbers for the £20 million mountain railway has not lived up to forecasts.

For more on the future of the funicular click here

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