TRAIN replacement buses will be in operation tomorrow to take shoppers in Manchester after Network Rail announced the sudden closure of a main railway line to "finish off engineering works".

The main Wigan-Manchester railway lines will be closed to trains as part of the Manchester-Preston upgrade. The lines operate via Atherton and Bolton.

Network Rail said it "sincerely apologises for the very short notice we have given Northern and its customers"

A spokesman said: "We are using this additional access to finish off snagging and assurance work that is critical to complete the electrification between Preston and Manchester.

"Without this work going ahead the completion of the electrification scheme could be further delayed and could cause further delays to the introduction of electric trains on the route. We want to safeguard against that.

"Further potential weekend closures are currently being discussed and will be communicated once agreed."

He added: "Once again, we apologise for any inconvenience this short notice work will cause and urge all passengers check before they travel using National Rail Enquiries for all the latest updates."

The sudden closure is another blow to festive shoppers or those hoping to visit the Manchester Christmas Markets who have been facing weeks of strike action on Saturdays, leading to a reduced sevice on the lines.

Northern Rail tweeted: "Buses will replace trains through Bolton as a result of Network Rail undertaking late notice engineering."