Text and Photos Michel Azéma

Funicular in the Highlands

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CairnGorm
Introduction
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Paradox
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 Cairn Gorm
Scotland

Introduction


A new funicular in Scotland !

This is what I read in an email from Brian Philp dated 15 November 1997.

« After much deliberation, the UK Government on 13 November 1997 agreed to provide finance of GBP9.5million, and the European Union are expected to agree on 17 December 1997 to provide finance of GBP3million, towards this GBP17million winter-sports and tourist project which would replace existing chairlifts by a funicular railway. »

On 24 December 2001, the funicular opened officially.

   
       
 
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A controversial project !

All along these five years I was regularly in touch with Scottish news to be informed of the progress of this project.

The less I can say is that project was one of the most controversial funicular projects I have ever known. I may admit that it is certainly the first one!
Funiculars are one of the most ecological public transportation systems and in Scotland the most fierce opponents were… the environmentalist!

The main reproach was the fear of the destruction of the fragile Cairngorm landscape due to the constructions and to the flood of new visitors on the protected mountain. Providing easy access should increase the number of visitors to the top of the mountain. This mass of visitors is needed to make the railway viable.

The second main reproach was that the construction of the funicular would be paid by public organizations, mainly Highlands and Islands Enterprise (HIE), that means by Scottish people themselves.

There have been many protests on the internet and in the media. That was the first time I saw such anger, even hate against a funicular!

As a convinced environmentalist and a funicular fan, I may admit that I was shacked in my faith!

The new visitor center was supposed to include new restaurants and tourist facilities at all three stations would also be renewed or replaced, and enlarged to handle many more visitors than before.

During the construction of the funicular and the new visitor center, I also read some critical articles where it was mentioned such words "example of environmental sabotage", "hideous construction", " this devastation is taking place high on Cairn Gorm", etc

That is why I decided to take the first opportunity to visit the new CairnGorm funicular and to see with my eyes the subject of this diabolic environmentalist insult.

This opportunity came on 27 May 2002.

 
     
 
 
 
 
 
     
   
 
Oldissues Index
 
CairnGorm
Introduction
Presentation
Paradox
Description (1)
Description (2)
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Michel Azéma, Paris (France)
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