The UK's highest railway is set to be shut for safety reasons for weeks.

Highlands and Islands Enterprise took the decision to withdraw the Cairngorm funicular railway from service on August 25 while a series of 'snagging' works were carried out.

Now 11 days after the works were hoped to be completed "relatively quickly" - it has emerged that HIE hope it will be back up and running by the end of this month.

The decision to close the railway came after the leading Scottish Government economic development agency settled a court action against constructors and designers over structural problems. HIE said two weeks ago that it had received £11m after settling the court action.

It had been pursuing a £14.5m claim against the company that owns Morrisons Construction and the civil and structural engineers for the scheme.

READ MORE: Scot gov agency sues creators of shut Cairngorm railway for £14.5m

The agency made claims over defects in the design and construction of the railway and breaches of contracts which emerged after the funicular was forced to shut five years ago.

HIE had at one point included a provision of £14.3m for the cost of reinstating the funicular which had been expected to take two years.

The Herald: Cairngorm funicular

It finally came back into action in January after a four-year hiatus and following a two-year programme of works to strengthen the viaduct that supports the railway track.

HIE said a 12-month snagging and inspection programme has been running since the relaunch, "as is usual practice with complex engineering projects".

The latest disruption came following an inspection that showed that some of the ‘scarf joint assemblies’ that link the beams at the top of the piers did not meet the required tension.

According to HIE work to increase the tension of these assemblies is "progressing well".

They said further inspection work has been completed and a series of trials using specialist equipment proved successful.

HIE said testing will be done continually as the tensioning work progresses.

A spokesman for HIE said: “Every effort is being made to complete these works quickly so that the funicular can be brought back into safe use as early as possible.

“Our current expectation is that the job can be completed and the train back in service again before the end of September. The timescale will be kept under close review and we’ll take every opportunity to move at pace, while maintaining safety as the top priority.”

The Cairngorms is a major Scottish tourism attraction and centre for recreation with downhill hillwalking and rock climbing a major draw for the 1.92m who visit the national park every year from around the world.

The crucial funicular, which was opened in 2001 and connects a base station with a restaurant and a ski area 1,097m (3,599ft) up Cairn Gorm mountain near Aviemore, was closed in September, 2018 due to structural issues.

News of the long-running case emerged in 2021 when it was revealed that ministers had to refund part of an EU grant for the original Cairngorm funicular because of discrepancies in the way it tendered for the work as costs spiralled.

The Herald:

As of the end of last year the cost to the taxpayer of funicular had soared to nearly £52m - with the costs of crucial repairs spiralling.

The cost of the repairs rose by 56% from £16.16m to £25m.

The faults were discovered after the costs of building the funicular spiralled from £14.8m to £26.75m.

Calls were made for a public inquiry into the management of the Cairngorm funicular, which it was hoped would re-open in late 2022.

A £14.5m claim was made against the now owners of Morrison Construction, Galliford Try Infrastructure Limited and Inverness-based AF Cruden Associates Limited, the civil and structural engineers for the scheme which had been taken over by Glasgow-based Arch Henderson.

The Herald:

The case was due to be dealt with in a proof hearing at the beginning of August.

But HIE confirmed that it had reached an out-of-court settlement for £11m - £3.5m less than the original claim.