NORTHERN Rail gets hundreds of millions of pounds to run a 'totally inadequate service'.

This was the message from Julie Hilling, the former Labour MP for Bolton West, this morning as she and shadow local government secretary Andrew Gwynne campaigned for the nationalisation of the railway.

Mrs Hilling, who became MP in 2010, said: "t's right train services get subsidised but they have the highest subsidy, they are the biggest, with the largest route and biggest number of staff and stations but they are getting £650 million of tax payers money every year to run a totally inadequate service."

Mrs Hilling and Mr Gwynne, Labour member for Denton and Reddish, were outside Bolton Rail Station in Trinity Street greeting commuters and handing out scratch card-style leaflets.

The leaflets detail Labour policies to bring the railways into public ownership, with capped fares and increased investment.

Labour activists and shadow cabinet members have been campaigning around the region today drawing attention to ongoing problems with the rail network and Northern Rail, which were given national attention when a change in timetables compounded problems and left thousands of commuters stranded because of a lack of drivers.

The problems resulted in an emergency timetable being implemented to get people to work.

Mr Gwynne said: "Chris Grayling has failed commuters miserably. Here in Bolton really the only option with poor public transport is to get in a car and drive somewhere. There should be a public transport alternative.

"People understand privatised railways aren't working. People just want to get to work and get home on time in decent modern carriages. Privatisation means pacers trains and cancellations, they want something better."

Mrs Hilling added: "I've been in Westhoughton, people are saying there are fewer passengers catching the train because they can't guarantee they'll get to college or work or anything else.

"We have more pollution and more problems and some people locally have lost their jobs because they can't get to work."

Bolton Council's leader Cllr Linda Thomas was also at the station supporting the campaign.

Cllr Thomas said: "I think it's an issue that's joined everyone in the community together and people are saying 'enough is enough'!"

The Greater Manchester Mayor Andy Burnham is speaking at the Northern Transport Summit in Manchester today, which transport secretary Chris Grayling chose not to attend instead choosing to go to Parliament to vote on a third runway for Heathrow Airport.

Mr Burnham is expected to call on the Prime Minister to guarantee the north will not fall behind in the queue for transport investment as a result of expansion of Heathrow.

Mr Gwynne said: "I think Andy Burnham is right, it shouldn't be either or, it shouldn't be north versus south. If we want our region to grow we need to demand the same level of investment that people in the south east get.

"Passengers in the north west of England put up with conditions no passenger in the south east would put up with."

He said the government had promised a lot with the northern powerhouse including improved connectivity but said at the moment traversing the region, getting from the Mersey to the Humber in a timely manner was "almost impossible".