MONTHS of misery for rail users comes to an end tomorrow, Sunday, with trains running once more between Hastings and Ashford.
Commuters and school children have had to endure nine weeks of long bus journeys, often in freezing weather, when the line closed to allow vital repair work to take place on the Ore Tunnel.
The service will be up and running again on Sunday morning from 6am.
The good news is that works carried out along the length of the line could well shave time off journeys in the future.
In particular, a curve near Ashford, which forced trains to slow down, has now been straightened.
The improvement work, carried out by Network Rail was praised by rail action group Marshlink, whose chairman Stuart Harland said: “Ore Tunnel was completed last week and, we trust, will not be a problem for years to come.
“Many works along the line have been brought forward, including the repair MLAG was particularly keen to have done, the embankment to the south of Ashford station which has had a slower speed limit on it for many years.
“These works will permit an increased line speed but it will be a while before these can be brought into effect because of timetable complexities - we understand and were expecting this.
“There are also other works to be done, such as the Winchelsea crossing long scheduled for 2013-14, which will complete the line speed improvements.
“I think we did have a good replacement service but some of the vehicles were more like buses than coaches.
“Having said that, overall, we have to applaud Southern for the service it provided, including during the snowy period.
“But let us be aware there will always be maintenance works on the line and we should welcome that, within reason.
“One early example is works at the Grove Road level crossing during the evenings of March 13 to 16 but, being overnight, these should not affect the operation of the train.
“Many of these matters will be discussed at the MLAG Annual General Meeting when we will have speakers from Network Rail, Southern and The Go-Ahead Group plc, the franchise holder for the line.”
The AGM takes place at 7.15pm on Wednesday. (March 14) at The George Hotel in Rye. The date was specifically chosen to be after completion of the works so the meeting could be forward thinking.