A SPOOKY encounter has left staff at the East Lancashire Railway on high alert, with families invited to sample spine tingling thrills for themselves.

This comes after a reported sighting of notorious ghoul "Billy the Guard", who is said to haunt the waiting room at Bury Bolton Street Station.

The ghostly sighting is set to add an extra dimension to this year's Halloween festivities at the heritage railway, which runs between Heywood, Greater Manchester, and Rawtenstall, Lancashire

Railway commercial manager Mark Hill said: "The story of Billy the Guard is a famous one that has been synonymous with The East Lancashire Railway for decades.

"It’s said that he stalks the waiting room at Bolton Street Station and a number of passengers have reported apparent encounters with him over the years.

"Last week, one of our staff was cleaning the station at night and he got the fright of his life when he caught a glimpse of a ghostly figure in overalls who seemed to be having a snooze, sat on a bench, in the waiting room.

"It was only a brief encounter but it spooked him so much that he is refusing to go near platforms three and four for the time being.

"There have been too many similar sightings of this ghostly figure over the years to be a coincidence, we just hope that Billy doesn’t put a spanner in the works of our Halloween plans."

Billy the Guard will be just one aspect of a range of Halloween activities planned by staff at the historic railway, including the launch of Halloween Ghost Trains and a Fright at the Museum experience on October 28, 29 and 30.

Fancy dress is encouraged and treats and drinks will be available on platform three , next to Billy the Guard’s haunted hangout.

The ghost trains will set off three times a day, at 5.30pm, 7pm and 8.30pm, with tickets starting at £12.90 for children and £18.30 for adults.

Early booking is advised due to high demand.

Bury Transport Museum will also be hosting an evening of ghost stories, while a Fright at the Museum experience will also be available for children ages 12 and up.

For more information, go to East Lancashire Railway's website.