PLANS for a two-year bus replacement programme have been unveiled by Bolton’s newest public transport company.

Diamond North West, under its parent company Rotala, acquired the Bolton and Bury interests of First Manchester, the Bolton News revealed at the end of June.

Five hundred staff and 18 commercial routes transferred to the new operator alongside the Weston Street bus depot.

And as an interim measure, Rotala agreed to lease 125 vehicles from First to maintain services.

But by the end of summer 2021, the entire Bolton fleet looks set to be overhauled.

John Gunn, company chairman, said: “These vehicles will be replaced progressively up to 30 June 2021 with more modern vehicles and the leased vehicles will be returned to First by that date.

“The directors estimate that the capital expenditure to be incurred over that time period in the re-equipment of the business will total approximately £26m, which will be financed using the group’s existing panel of providers of hire purchase finance facilities.

“However, once fully in place, this capital expenditure programme will have equipped this business with all of its replacement vehicle requirement for at least the next decade.”

Under the £5.3million deal for the Bolton services, Rotala also acquired two smaller depots in Atherton and Eccles. Company bosses say they will be exploring “synergies” between the Bolton site and Atherton and Eccles locations to ensure they “operate in the most efficient manner possible”.

Mr Goodman is also confident that their Bolton expansion will pay dividends for the firm.

He added: "The board believes that the acquisition of this business will strengthen significantly the operations of the Company in the Greater Manchester area.

"After London, Greater Manchester represents one of the largest bus markets in the country, on a par with the West Midlands where Rotala already has a notable presence. The Bolton acquisition has, taken together with Rotala’s existing operations.... created a business which has a significant share of the Greater Manchester bus market."