THERE’S a light at the end of the tunnel for rail passengers after the completion of major engineering works.

Passengers have been forced to use a replacement bus service between Burnley Manchester Road and Hebden Bridge for the past 20 weeks.

But Network Rail and contractors Amco, have finished repairs to the 265-yard long Holme Tunnel which was built in 1849 and full services were due to be resumed today.

Around 400 tonnes of steelwork, 3,000 tonnes of concrete and 2,800 tonnes of ballast, 2,000 railway sleepers and 2.6km of track have gone into transforming and strengthening the tunnel, near Cliviger, over the past four months.

Years of land slips in the Ice Age gorge had caused the structure to gradually deteriorate and reduce the line speed to just 20mph.

Now the speed limit for the tunnel, which is also used for Leeds to Manchester Victoria trains, can now be raised to 45mph.

The works will prove crucial to commuter travel times when the delayed new East Lancashire to Manchester service begins, as promised, this December. A new train is being secured for the higher-speed route.

The next significant scheme for East Lancashire's railways will see the line between Colne and Rose Grove Station shut for nine days from March 30 to allow for the track to be upgraded.