'EITHER there was capacity at the time or there was not'.

These are the words of Tatton MP Esther McVey in a push for answers on Northern's failed two-trains-an-hour promise through mid Cheshire.

The pledge was a key part of Northern's winning franchise bid back in 2015 but, four years on, the project is seemingly unachievable due to lack of infrastructure.

Ms McVey, who represents Lostock Gralam and Rudheath, said: "I do not understand how this was included in the franchise and four years on we are still waiting for it to happen. How is it we are being told there is no capacity on the line – surely this would have been established well in advance of any bids being put in and agreed?”

The MP has lobbied the Department for Transport on the issue since her election,and recently met with new transport secretary Grant Shapps to set out her concerns.

The second hourly train between Chester and Manchester was initially set to be introduced in December 2017, but after a series of delays it was postponed indefinitely.

Further to this, the service has been criticised by passengers as inconsistent and uncomfortable, with the phase-out of Pacers only just beginning elsewhere in the north.

Ms McVey said: “Northern promised the trains as part of their franchise bid and that bid was successful. The fact this has now changed means questions need to be answered and all involved come up with solutions on how to resolve the issue.

“I made it clear to Grant Shapps that my constituents are frustrated by this. It is unacceptable to have such an unreliable and irregular service in such a busy part of the country.

"The increase in service was part of the franchise bid and I and everyone else expects it to be delivered.

"He assured me he would look into it and I will keep chasing up this matter with him until he gets answers and we get this upgrade back on track.”