RAIL passengers are facing a third day of chaos after a train derailed.
And train bosses have said the disruption could last for up to a week.
The rear of an empty 1960s diesel train caught fire at 2.40pm on Wednesday causing it to derail near Salford Crescent station.
Dozens of services through Bolton were cancelled on Wednesday afternoon and evening.
Customers turning up at Bolton station on Wednesday evening were faced with an information blackout as departure screens could not tell them when trains would arrive and staff did not know.
Transport chiefs deployed replacement bus services between Bolton, Salford Crescent and Manchester Piccadilly, but staff could not tell frustrated commuters how long they would be — and they struggled to stop motorists parking in the space reserved coaches.
Matt Johnson, aged 28, of Chorley, said: “I sympathise with them because no-one could have predicted this incident, but they just aren’t prepared to act when the unexpected happens.
“I pay £6.10 a day for a return ticket to get me to work in Bolton and had to fork out another £4.50 to get home by bus on Wednesday night because there simply weren’t enough coaches,” said the supermarket worker.
By yesterday morning, most services between stations in the Bolton area and Manchester Victoria were running normally and the replacement bus service between Manchester Airport, Manchester Piccadilly and Bolton was running smoothly.
National Rail’s website warned passengers services were expected to be extremely busy and there were reports of passenger congestion at Victoria during the morning rush hour.
A signalling problem at Preston meant services between Blackpool and Manchester via Bolton were delayed by about 30 minutes at lunchtime.
A National Rail spokesman said engineers could not be sure when services would return to normal, but that he hoped things would be back to normal by next Friday. He added: “The damage to the tracks should be repaired by the end of the week and we are asking passengers to stay patient and keep checking for service updates in the meantime.”