The Scottish Parliament’s Public Audit Committee will launch a scathing attack on Highlands and Islands Enterprise (HIE) for failing to properly control spending on the controversial funicular railway, which has been repeatedly baled out by taxpayers’ money.
In a report, a copy of which has been leaked to the Sunday Herald, the committee will also criticise HIE for continuing to offer an “open-ended commitment” to funding the funicular. It will demand new controls to ensure that more major cost overruns are not incurred in the future.
The funicular railway, which runs nearly all the way to the summit of Britain’s fifth highest mountain near Aviemore, has been plagued with problems since it was first proposed in the early 1990s (see below). Lack of visitors has meant that it has struggled to make money.
There were many years without enough snow for skiers. But even when there has been plenty of snow, like this winter, the railway has been forced to close because it cannot cope with adverse weather.
The funicular has been shut down for 19 days since the start of this year, frustrating thousands of would-be skiers. This weekend it is closed again, with roads, car parks and buildings submerged under huge piles of drifting snow, after falls of up to two metres.