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Rail chiefs hoped to re-open the line this month, but had to put the date back to mid-April as the project slipped behind schedule. Now, however, they have brought the date forward two weeks and say it will re-open on April 4.
It will be welcome news to the thousands of commuters who will have been stranded on replacement buses and coaches for two months.
Immediately after the track collapsed some passengers were forced to pay double because the rail firm which runs services on the line withdrew all its advance tickets, which come at a heavy discount.
Amid a fierce backlash, First Great Western was forced to deny 'profiteering' and the next day introduced a 25 per cent discount for all its more expensive on-the-day fares.
Despite the gesture traders in Devon and Cornwall have claimed the works have cost the South West's tourist economy more than £1million a day.
Battering: Waves smash against the seafront in Dawlish on the morning after a storm surge washed away the sea wall under a 100m stretch of railway track
Mess: Workers arrived soon after the track was left dangling in mid-air, but had to continue battling storms which damaged the sea wall for more than a week afterwards
Damage: While the hole in the sea wall was the biggest in Dawlish, several other parts of the historic railway designed by Isambard Kingdom Brunel were damaged
The repair work is reportedly costing £15million but Network Rail has refused to confirm its estimate for the final cost of the project. A spokesman told MailOnline only that it would run into 'millions of pounds'.
The spokesman said: 'Network Rail is acutely aware of the value of the railway to the economy of the south west of England and has been working closely with local authorities, business groups and transport providers in and around Dawlish to ensure that disruption is minimised.
'Restoring this vital asset in time for the busy school holiday period will provide a welcome boost to the regional economy as business and tourism return to South Devon and Cornwall.'
Transport secretary Patrick McLoughlin added: 'I saw for myself the scale of the damage to the line at Dawlish caused by the recent exceptionally bad weather. Today’s confirmation that the line should now be back in operation before the Easter holidays will be a real boost for local communities and businesses.
'I know that Network Rail staff have been working tirelessly to get the line up and running as soon as possible. I would like to thank everyone for their hard work so far.'
Spray: The storms continued for more than a week after the collapse but workers were already on site, as shown in this photo from February 9
Sea view: Network Rail released a series of photos showing how work has progressed on the site of the disaster. This one is dated February 12
Romantic walk on the beach: Works continued on February 14, Valentine's Day, when this photo was taken. Huge shipping containers formed a temporary wall
Damage: Work continues on February 19. The project is costing an estimated £15m and more repairs will be needed to secure the sea wall in the future
Just keep digging: Workers on the seafront on February 26. The route is more than 150 years old and was opened as a channel from London to the south west
Progress: This photo, also taken on February 26, shows how work on the sea wall has progressed since much of it was swept away
Landslips: Workers on the line on March 5. Several landslips in more than a week of storms pushed the work behind schedule amid protests from Cornwall businesses
More work will have to be done on the line to safeguard it against future storms once the railway has been reopened, with the final cost yet to be confirmed.
The Army and Royal Marines were called in to help with emergency repairs after the track gave way on the night of February 4. It had already been closed for safety reasons after heavy waves and a storm surge were predicted.
More than a week of storms badly damaged a 3.7 mile section between Dawlish and Teignmouth - with other breaches at Dawlish Warren and Teignmouth and five landslips near the famous Smugglers’ Cove.
The route is more than 150 years old, and was designed by the engineering legend Isambard Kingdom Brunel to take tourists to the south west from London.
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