A NEW £3m luxury bus service connecting East Lancashire with Manchester has been nominated for a top award.

Burnley and Pendle Travel's X43 Witch Way' service has been shortlisted for a prize in the UK Bus Awards - the industry's Oscars.

The state-of-the-art leather-seated fleet of distinctive red and black double-decker buses which connect Nelson, Burnley and Rawtenstall with Manchester was launched last year.

Judges singled out the vehicles for transforming public transport in the area.

John Owen, chairman of the UK Bus Awards, said: "Bus travel has an essential role to play for many people in Burnley and Pendle, providing a vital lifeline to shopping, work, school, leisure and cultural facilities.

"Congestion is a growing problem that shows little sign of abating.

"The bus is an obvious solution and a quality bus service can have a measurable impact on the quality of an individual's life.

"The Witch Way service is a superb initiative, giving people the chance to ride in style on distinctively branded buses."

The service has been nominated in the outdoor bus marketing campaign of the year award at the ceremony which will take place London's Hilton Park Lane Hotel, on November 1.

The fleet runs between Nelson and Burnley and Manchester every 20 minutes through the day from Monday to Saturday, more often at peak times, up to every 30 minutes on Sundays, and hourly during the evening.

The company has marketed the new X43 fleet as "business class as standard" with publicity aimed at reaching motorists who haven't used the bus in years.

Since the new fleet was introduced record numbers have travelled on the route. Latest figures showed the total number of people using the route had risen by 16.1 per cent.

A spokesman for Burnley & Pendle Travel said: "We are delighted that the initiative has been so well received."