A KEY bus service from East Lancashire to Manchester has been saved.

Operator Transdev has reversed its decision to scrap the Red Express/X41 from Accrington to the city centre via Haslingden, Edenfield and Ramsbottom nest week..

It has introduced a ‘rescue package’ with a revised timetable with new morning and afternoon rush hour services.

Dozens of passengers have taken to social media to express delight at ‘wonderful news’.

The move has been weclomed by former Hyndburn Labour MP Graham Jones and his Tory successor Sara Britcliffe.

Major concerns were raised over the X41's proposed axing in December with 4,000 signing a petition calling for it to be saved despite annual losses of £300,000.

Transdev announced on its website: “Together with newly elected MPs and our local authority partners, we have launched a rescue package for Red Express to keep fast, direct buses between Accrington, Haslingden, Ramsbottom and Manchester.

“Red Express has faced an uncertain future and we had made the difficult decision to replace it with a revised network to help cover our costs.

“We have worked to find a way forward which is a slightly revised timetable that includes fast buses at rush hours which will see 15 minutes shaved from journeys to make commuting much more attractive. After years of hard work and huge investment on Red Express we are obviously pleased that we can continue."

The new service will provide extra fast rush hour journeys, with buses arriving into Manchester Chorlton Street, at 7.40am and 8.10am and leaving the same stop at 4.35pm and 5.15pm. Previously advertised changes to the Irwell Line, 481 and 483 service to create an every 30 minute Bury-Ramsbottom-Rawtenstall link will no longer go ahead.

Miss Britcliffe said: "I am absolutely delighted as I know how important this bus route is for so many in Hyndburn and Haslingden."

Mr Jones said: “I am absolutely delighted. This has been a big campaign with Hyndburn Council but it does not solve the crisis of lost bus routes across East Lancashire.”

Rossendale MP and Northern Powerhouse Minister Jake Berry said: "I promised we would do everything we could to keep the X41 running . I'm delighted we've succeeded in saving this vital link to Manchester which many in Helmshore and Edenfield rely on.”