ANGRY commuters have taken transport into their own hands after Northern Rail refused to provide early morning trains or buses to Manchester.

Workers in Darwen have clubbed together to hire private bus company Travel Assist to take commuters from Darwen to Bury Metro Station, so they can get to Manchester before 7am.

There are currently no services in operation which cater for early starters, with the earliest train arriving at Manchester at 7.07am.

The move comes after a meeting last year between commuters, councillors and Northern Rail failed to provide any reasonable solution to the problem of accessing a train from Darwen to Manchester before 6am.

Sam McIntyre, 62, works in the construction industry and needs to be at his place of work in Manchester before 7am.

He said: “Northern Rail failed to deliver on transport so this is about catering to the commuters in Darwen.

“There’s lots of people who work in Manchester and have very early starts, and there’s people trying to get back into the workplace who are struggling to find jobs in and around Darwen so have to take on work in Manchester.

“We had a meeting last year to talk about a timetable change or the possibility of an Arriva bus to leave Darwen early, and since that meeting we’ve heard nothing.”

The minibus idea has had the backing of Darwen councillors, with Conservative councillor, Kevin Connor supporting Mr McIntyre in his efforts.

Cllr Connor said: “I’ve been in constant contact with Mr Mcintyre throughout all of this; we met with Northern Rail and MP Jake Berry last year to talk about the problems.

“Mr McIntyre wanted Northern Rail to recognise getting people into Manchester from Darwen early in the morning was troublesome.

“Since the meeting there’s been no contact from Northern Rail, or Jake Berry, so Mr McIntyre and other commuters have had to take matters into their own hands.

“We are in a bad place in Darwen for transport. There’s billions been spent in London but up in the north we’re struggling to get trains due to cuts; something’s not right.”

Northern Rail were contacted but refused to comment.

It is hoped the early bird bus will start at the beginning of February, with an estimated departure time from Darwen of 5.30am.