THE weekend rail replacement service through Bolton has been branded “unacceptable” after buses failed to turn up and left customers stranded.

For several months trains at the weekend through Bolton have been replaced by buses to allow electrification work to take place.

On Saturday morning, the first replacement bus is due to arrive at Bromley Cross at 7am and then every hour through the day.

However, on Saturday, the 8am service failed to arrive and customers were told a bus had not been allocated and the first bus of the day would depart at 10am.

When a normal timetable is running, a train runs from Clitheroe through Bromley Cross, Hall I’ Th’ Wood and Bolton every 30 minutes on a Saturday but replacements buses run once an hour.

Many replacement buses have also been reported as running late.

MP for Bolton North East, Sir David Crausby, is urging people affected by problems with Northern to contact him.

He said: “They need to provide a bus if people are turning up at 8am. If that is the service, they should do it.

“It is just a pattern really with Northern. It is constant, if it is not one thing, it is another.

“I accept they have got to do the work and they have had some difficult problems with the line, but they need to put some investment into it. It is all on the cheap.

“They are spending huge amounts of money on these infrastructure projects and try and save pennies on the alternative services.

“It is not acceptable. Hopefully at some point in my lifetime we will have a good service between Bolton and Manchester.”

Work to complete the Manchester to Preston railway upgrade is continuing, alongside work on other key parts of the Great North Rail Project, in 2018.

The electrification work is to upgrade the 25 mile stretch of track between Manchester and Preston, including through Bolton, and will allow modern more frequent services.

Electric trains will not serve Bolton until December and weekend closures are expected until at least the end of April.

Liam Sumpter, regional director for Northern, said: “We encountered problems with our replacement bus services on Saturday morning, which meant the booked vehicles didn’t arrive as planned.

“As soon as we were notified of the error we took steps to get extra standby buses in place.

“We are working with our rail replacement bus supplier to make sure this doesn’t happen again and I’d like to apologise to anyone whose journey was affected by the error.”