IT might be a new year, but sadly it’s the same old story on the trains.

Despite promises made by Network Rail, Northern Rail and various politicians, including David Cameron when he was Prime Minister, the ‘service’ being offered to Boltonians as 2019 gets under way is simply shocking.

We all know this is not new and it has been said by many - including this newspaper - over and over for decades.

But while passengers continue to suffer, we shouldn’t apologise for shouting about the train network’s shambolic state.

And as we chug slowly into 2019, gobsmacked rail users this week faced an average 3.1 per rise in the cost of tickets.

It’s not that the increase is huge. It’s that it exists at all.

If a service is actually worse than it was a year ago for many people, despite a public outcry, a price rise is outrageous. If anything, loyal passengers deserve an annual rebate as compensation.

Greater Manchester Mayor Andy Burnham has made his displeasure about the situation plain ever since he took up the role.

Before Christmas, as part of a question and answer session with the public held at the University of Bolton, Mr Burnham was clear in his warning. If things didn’t improve quickly by the early part of this year (a May deadline was mentioned) Northern Rail should lose the franchise.

Writing in the Metro newspaper this week, he described how his office has been inundated in 2018 with stories of people on final warnings at work, missed flights at Manchester Airport and important family events disrupted because of the unreliability of the train services in the region.

In his piece, Mr Burnham issues a stark warning to rail operators if there are not significant improvements quickly; that they should “make plans for their own departure”.

Of course, he is right. The situation is unacceptable and must improve. Putting up rail fares really is adding insult to injury.

There is, however, a major problem. Mr Burnham has no power in the way of sanctions at his disposal to force such improvements.

It is commendable that he feels so passionately about the issue and reassuring that he is fighting on Greater Manchester’s behalf. But verbal jousting is all this is.

It needs action by those in power – and that means Transport Minister Chris Grayling.

Unfortunately, there has been scant evidence of any pressure being brought to bear by the government so far. They are so bogged down/distracted/flummoxed by Brexit that the rail issues around here appear to barely register as a blip on their radar.

More devolution to the regions seems a sensible way to go.

The talk when George Osborne was Chancellor was of regions taking more control of their destiny. Having a fit for purpose rail service is one of the most important elements.

Surely devolving control of the transport system to enable it to be as integrated as possible and run/regulated by the people closest to it is worth trying?

It cannot be any worse than we have now.