A KEY rail service between Scotland and England has fully re-opened after the completion of repairs to the flood-damaged line.
West Coast Mainline services were disrupted after Storm Frank left Lamington viaduct in Dumfries and Galloway close to collapse on New Year’s Eve.
With the line closed north of Carlisle, alternative bus and train routes have since added about an hour to journey times between Glasgow and London, and hit other services out of Glasgow.
The first train over the newly-repaired viaduct by Lockerbie was the north-bound Caledonian Sleeper service between London and Inverness at 3am.
Virgin Trains and First TransPennie Express services will also resume on Monday.
Phil Verster, managing director of the ScotRail Alliance, said: “We appreciate the understanding customers have shown throughout the recovery operation.
“I am very proud of the hard work and commitment of our engineers who have had to contend with extremely challenging conditions at Lamington - battling against the elements and clock to save this important structure from collapse.”
The viaduct’s second pier was left on the brink of collapse when flood waters scoured out much of its foundations on December 31.
Over the last seven weeks engineers have placed more than 7,000 tons of rock around the battered structure to protect it from the fast-flowing Clyde.
They constructed concrete supports around the damaged second pier and anchored it to the riverbed using more than 100 eight metre-long steel rods, ScotRail said.
Scottish transport minister Derek Mackay said: “I am pleased to see the Lamington viaduct operational once again and the resumption of the vital passenger and freight services that rely on the West Coast Mainline.
“I would particularly like to praise the efforts of all those people who have worked on securing and rebuilding the structure, especially amid the challenging weather conditions that we have experienced this winter.”
Claire Perry, UK Government Rail Minister, said: “When I visited the Lamington viaduct in January I saw first-hand the scale of the engineering challenge and the dedicated Network Rail team working round-the-clock to resolve the damage.
“In difficult conditions, they have managed to reopen ahead of schedule and I’m grateful for the patience of customers who were disrupted and to the staff who adapted remarkably.”