THE Sandbanks Ferry will be back in service on Thursday, it was announced this afternoon.

The service will start again at 7am from Sandbanks, with three crossings per hour in each direction as usual until the 11.10pm from Studland.

In addition, the company which runs the ferry has announced the introduction of double discounts on all books of ferry tickets purchased between now and the end of November 2019.

Mike Kean, managing director of the Sandbanks Ferry Company, said: “We are delighted to announce the return of the Sandbanks chain ferry to service.

“We know that the lack of a ferry service has caused a difficult and frustrating summer for many residents of Studland, Swanage and Poole, as well as for local businesses and of course, for the company and its employees.

"We’d like to extend our sincere apologies once again for the issues caused by the service suspension, and a heartfelt thank you for the support we’ve been shown by the local communities while the ferry has been out of service.

"Our staff and contractors have worked incredibly hard over the summer on the repairs in order to return the ferry to the passengers who rely on it.

“We’re looking forward to welcoming friends old and new on board, and to recommencing a regular, safe and reliable service to the local community, as we have done for many years.”

Ordinarily, ticket discounts vary from 10 per cent on a book of 50 tickets for foot passengers and cycles, to 24 per cent on a book of 50 tickets for a car, light van or goods vehicle.

These discounts will be doubled for every book purchased from October 31 to November 30.

The books are available to buy from the ferry office and toll boxes and to order from the ferry website as usual.

The chain ferry, which operates a route between Shell Bay in Studland and Sandbanks in Poole, experienced a broken driveshaft earlier this year – an unprecedented and prematurely early failure of a part which had been engineered to last the lifetime of the vessel.

The company paid an additional £46,000 to halve the lead time on a replacement component. As a precautionary measure, the second unaffected driveshaft assembly has been replaced to minimise any risk of future loss in service.