THE GOVERNMENT has pledged to improve the public transport network after admitting it has "fallen way behind".

On a visit to Bolton Interchange, the exchequer secretary said the public is set to see renewed investment in the region as part of the 'Northern Powerhouse' initiative.

Middlesbrough MP, Simon Clarke, said there would be "revolutionary strides forward" and repeated new prime minister Boris Johnson's claims to "turbo charge" investment.

His comments have been met with some scepticism, with business leaders questioning whether the Northern Powerhouse idea has had an impact since it was introduced by the coalition government.

But, Mr Clarke said Bolton residents would start to see the initiative reach its "next stage" with new funding and infrastructure announced and a focus on transport.

He said: "You just cannot get away from the fact that the quality of public transport infrastructure in the North has been allowed to fall way behind that which there is in London and the South East. The good thing is you have a government which is now really keen to change that round."

When asked whether he felt people in the North had lost trust in the Northern Powerhouse Mr Clarke said he felt there was "some impatience" but pointed to plans for a Manchester to Leeds rail link and further backing of regional mayor Andy Burnham.

He said: "I think it's something that people have an enormous appetite for, I represent a Northern constituency too and I understand it's something that they buy into, the idea of it they support. But, clearly there's an impatience to see it delivered.

"There's so much which needs to be done, we're sitting here in Bolton in a fantastic transport facility which ties in neatly to the regeneration of the town centre. This is living proof that there is stuff going on - this was partially government funded - we were in the Leigh area earlier on looking at the muddy mile and the cycleway there and again that's treasury money."

The minister was joined by Bolton Council leader David Greenhalgh, who said he was "delighted" to have met with Mr Clarke and called the visit "hugely positive".

He said: "I think when people don't see the investment that they've hoped for and there are delays they become cynical but what we're seeing now and over the past few weeks is a new commitment."

He added: "I think it's brilliant that we've got a new commitment in this. This is the first trip out for the ministry and they've chosen to come to Bolton and Greater Manchester which is hugely positive.

"This is hugely positive news for the town that they're recognising the importance of the Northern Powerhouse and funding that's going into it. It's got to be good news and I'm delighted with it."

Despite the upbeat attitude of both representatives, the idea of a revamped Northern Powerhouse scheme has raised some eyebrows.

Robert Downes, development manager for the Federation of Small Businesses (FSB) said: "I don't think most businesses in the North could describe to you what the Northern Powerhouse actually is if you asked them. I think a lot of businesses wouldn't be able to explain what it actually is. It's meant different things to different people over the years and now it's become a catch-al line."