Sunday 11 December 2016

Rail firm holiday advert criticised

Published 13/10/2011 | 18:32

A rail operator has had to amend its adverts promoting trips to Dartmouth as they do not run a normal service to the historic Devonshire town
A rail operator has had to amend its adverts promoting trips to Dartmouth as they do not run a normal service to the historic Devonshire town

A major rail operator has been criticised for running an advertising campaign promoting a destination that can only be reached by rail using steam trains running on a heritage line.

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First Great Western's (FGW) "Explore" advertising campaign features Dartmouth in Devon, with posters and adverts featuring the catchline: "The train makes it easy to get to Dartmouth. But I always find it difficult to leave."

Another line on the adverts, which are on its website and have also been used in national newspapers, reads: "Explore Dartmouth by train."

But the nearest network train station to Dartmouth is Paignton, on the South Devon branch line six miles away and linked to Dartmouth by heritage steam trains running on the commercially-run Paignton and Dartmouth Steam Railway.

They run to Kingswear, on the opposite side of the River Dart, on a line which closed to network trains in 1972. From there, passengers using the line have to take a ferry across to Dartmouth.

The nearest mainline station with direct trains from London and other parts of the UK is 12 miles away at Totnes, with connections to the town from there by bus, taxi or river boat.

FGW said it would amend the advert to show where the nearest station to Dartmouth is after consumer group Passenger Focus said it could have "perplexed" passengers.

Anthony Smith, chief executive of Passenger Focus, said: "We welcome creative ideas for promoting the use of the rail network. However, passengers may be somewhat perplexed at being encouraged to buy train tickets for travel to a destination which has no train station."

All of the other destinations in the campaign, Cardiff and Swansea in Wales, St Ives and Newquay in Cornwall and Bath in Somerset, are reachable from other parts of the country by either main line or branch line services.

A First Great Western spokesman said it had altered the advert on its website.

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