The stretch of damaged railway line at Dawlish is now scheduled to reopen on April 4 – in time for the Easter holidays.
On February 4 the line at Dawlish, which connects the South West with the rest of the UK, was battered by giant waves, which brought a trail of destruction along almost four miles of the track.
Just over a week later, fresh storms caused further damage, which prompted Network Rail to announce the section of the Great Western Main Line would remain closed until the middle of April.
Since then Network Rail has been working around the clock to reinstate the line, saying it has always been conscious of the importance of the railway line to the South West’s economy.
Stephen Gilbert, who represents St Austell and Newquay, said the announcement by Network Rail that the severed railway line will reopen earlier than expected is a “big boost.”
Mr Gilbert said: “Ever since the floods hit the South West last month, it has been vital that everyone works together to ensure that Cornwall remains open for business.
“The news that the railway at Dawlish will reopen two weeks earlier than expected, and well in time for the Easter school holidays, will be a big boost for Cornwall’s tourism industry.
“My praises go out to the Environment Agency, Network Rail and all other bodies who have worked around the clock to ensure that these works are completed in the quickest time frame.”
Patrick Hallgate, Network Rail’s Western route managing director, said: “We are determined to complete this work in time for the school holidays to support the vital tourism trade in Dawlish, South Devon and across the south west of England.
“An unfortunate event like the one experienced at Dawlish shows how important the railway is to the region’s people and its economy and I hope our efforts to restore here show how seriously we treat that responsibility.”
He said even once work at Dawlish is complete, a huge amount of work will remain elsewhere, to protect “this vital national asset” for the future.
“We are tackling that process head-on, he added
Secretary of State for Transport Patrick McLoughlin added the news was 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", said Mr McLoughlin.