THE PROBLEM hit Cowes floating bridge is scheduled to return to service on Monday for extended trials.
During the trial experts will assess whether much publicised problems with the chains, groundings, noise and cars being damaged driving on and off have been successfully addressed.
The Isle of Wight Council spent more than £3 million of Solent Local Enterprise cash on the replacement vessel which has only run for a matter of days since its shambolic introduction in May.
It says normal fares will apply but as a gesture of goodwill foot passengers can travel free between December 23 and January 2 inclusive.
A late night service will also operate on Christmas Eve and New Year’s Eve to tie-in with Red Funnel services. 

& amp;lt;div>“There has been significant progress and a great deal of determination to get the floating bridge back into action before the busy Christmas period,” said council leader Cllr Dave Stewart. 

“The trial period could mean that the floating bridge may need be taken out of service or not operate a full service at certain times, however, the intention is that it will operate as closely to the published timetable from now on. 
“I would like to thank Cowes and East Cowes residents and businesses for their understanding and patience over the last few months and we hope the vessel will now perform well during this trial period. 
“I continue to compile a report into what has happened regarding the well-publicised issues surrounding the floating bridge and this will be published in the New Year.” 
Council chief executive John Metcalfe said:“Officers have been working hard to get the floating bridge back in service as soon as possible, however, we are rightly being cautious about the next steps. "Chain depth testing has been ongoing and there is confidence the vessel will work during the trial period. 
“We’ve not been able to address every issue while the bridge has been out of service and the floating bridge’s chains will need further adjustment in the New Year, and there will be some more work to address any remaining noise issues. 
"Everyone will receive notice in good time, if this impacts on services."