AN MP has been criticised for his “silence” on recent rail issues.

Bolton West representative Chris Green is part of the Department for Transport, which selects rail franchise operators and sets the terms of their contracts.

Julie Hilling, who was Bolton West MP before Mr Green, said the Conservative Party member seemed happy to “carry out public relations” for struggling rail operator Northern.

She said: “When I was an MP, I always ensured I was Bolton West’s voice in Westminster. Chris Green’s silence on recent rail failures and defence of the Transport Secretary, on the other hand, have made it clear that he is very much Westminster’s voice in Bolton.

“An MP needs to stand shoulder to shoulder with their constituents, but Chris Green seems happy to carry out public relations for Northern and the failing Secretary of State.

“It is alarming that Green says he and the Secretary of State were reassured by Northern that the roll-out of the new timetable would run smoothly, when the reality was staring them in the face.

“Passengers were telling me about last minute cancellations weeks before, and the problem of driver shortages has been public knowledge for some time.”

She also criticised the government for heavily subsidising Northern, giving £650 million a year to the organisation — more than any other operator.

In response, Mr Green said: “I have made very clear that the recent problems faced by passengers have been unacceptable and I’m pleased that things are now starting to improve.

“One of the key things about being an MP is that plenty of work goes on behind the scenes – I have had countless meetings with ministers and rail bosses working to find a solution to the overcrowding and cancelled services we have had in recent weeks.

“It is important to note that the current problems are compounded by long-term problems — ones that were ignored by the former Labour Transport Secretary, Ruth Kelly, when she represented Bolton West.

“For years, people have called for significant devolution, which we now have.

“I now want Transport for the North and Greater Manchester Mayor Andy Burnham to use their devolved powers to effect change — including using their influence to stop RMT’s planned three-day strike. This is not a time for political grandstanding.”