The rail lines in and out of Wigan came to a complete standstill after a broken-down train blocked the lines.
Services were cancelled or delayed by up to 50 minutes for several hours on Thursday due to the obstruction between Wigan North Western and Wigan Wallgate.
Northern services were particularly badly affected, with problems for travellers between Southport and Leeds or Blackburn, between Manchester Victoria and Kirkby, between Wigan North Western and Alderley Edge or Liverpool Lime Street and also between Blackpool North and Liverpool Lime Street.
Replacement bus services had to be used during the lunch-time period.
Trains started running again in the Wigan area shortly after 2.30pm.