COMMUTERS in Bolton were left stranded after a “major lightning strike” at Manchester Piccadilly station caused disruption to rail services during the morning rush hour.

Several services were cancelled, while others were delayed or diverted, as Network Rail tried to solve the signalling issues caused by the strike, which happened just after 7am yesterday In Bolton, the 8.15am and 9.07am trains to Blackpool North were cancelled, along with the 8.39am service to Manchester Victoria.

Other services faced delays of up to 90 minutes. A Northern Rail spokesman confirmed that it was a “major lightning strike” and that services were delayed “for safety reasons”.

At Bolton train station, dozens of commuters faced disruption. Melanie Carr, aged 47, who was travelling to Bolton from Marple said: “I am very hot and bothered. My train was delayed and the journey took an hour longer than it normally does. But it’s not the fault of the train people — it’s the elements.”

Adam Mayer and Kirsty Rawlings, both aged 25, attempted to get to work in Horwich but were seriously delayed. Mr Mayer said: “We normally try to get into Horwich for 8.30am, but it’s already way past nine and we’ve only made it as far as Bolton.

“We heard about the lightning on the news and thought we might be affected, but our boss has been very understanding. It can’t be helped.”

Kate Percival was hoping to visit her father in Cheltenham, but the delays meant she was likely to miss her Manchester connection.

She said: “When I saw the lightning on TV I thought ‘Oh my God’, I’m hoping for the best.”

Services at Manchester Piccadilly began to return to normal later in the morning, but the large number of backlogs continued to cause disruption for travellers late into yesterday afternoon.