BUS drivers are being trained to stay on the right track during the Commonwealth Games with a little help from computer technology.

The drivers are now studying actual video footage of the routes they will be driving as they transport athletes to venues in Bolton and throughout Greater Manchester.

The 300 bus drivers, from all over the UK, who will be on duty during the games are learning the routes they will be driving -- without actually leaving Bolton's Crook Street bus depot.

The drivers are studying a software package called VR Route Trainer which is part of a programme of driver training that will ensure drivers are familiar with more than 50 special bus routes they will be driving taking athletes, officials and the media to stadiums and venues across the region.

The computer technology gives drivers video footage of the routes, with information on key hazards and road conditions. Diversions can also be added to the system to keep the programme completely up-to-date.

The drivers, only 150 of which are from Greater Manchester, will be operating a fleet of 95 brand new single-deck buses worth more than £11 million.

The Commonwealth Games badminton event will be held at the Bolton Arena and cycling and mountain biking events will take place at Rivington.

Some of the bus drivers involved have even given up their valuable holiday time to ensure other bus services throughout the area do not suffer.

The routes were filmed with a video camera from the driver's cab and the footage was processed by VideoRoute and the software was created to be used with a computer. The video is also accompanied by a commentary from an instructor, and drivers can review the routes as many times as they wish and return to sections if they need to.

Tony Pilling, divisional IT manager of First's bus operations in the North West, said: "This is the first time we have used this type of training and I am confident it will play a key role in helping us to run a first class bus service for the Games.

"We are also looking at the opportunities to see if the video package can be used to train drivers who will be working on our normal bus routes."

IN FOCUS: Paul Watkinson drives his bus while a camera films his route