AT least £471million has been taken by shareholders of rail franchises operators from across the north west in the last five years, TUC analysis has revealed.

The figures revealed Northern, which operates services across Bolton and Greater Manchester, took £83million in dividends between 2013/14 and 2017/18.

The union compared the total figure across the north west to the loot from nine great train robberies which took place in 1963.

TUC regional secretary for the north west, Jay McKenna, said: “It’s appalling that shareholders are taking millions of pounds out of the north west’s rail routes.

“Especially while commuters are stuck with over-crowded and unreliable trains.

“This modern-day train robbery is working against the needs of people across our region.

“Instead of lining shareholders pockets, the money should invested into services, making it easier and cheaper to travel.

“If you’re travelling around on a train in the north west today, you’re likely to be paying more, whilst you’re paid less.

“Can you honestly say you’re getting value for money?

“We deserve better.

“Let’s use our votes to get public railways that work for all, not private profit.”

The TUC said working people who rely on trains to get to work are getting a raw deal.

In the decade since 2009, fares for UK commuters have risen at twice the speed of wages.