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Rail firms hit buffers with ads that are ‘misleading’

ADS for two rail companies have been banned for making ‘misleading’ claims about fares and journey times.

Govia Thameslink has been told to remove ads boasting its Gatwick Express service runs non-stop to London Victoria ‘in half an hour’ or ‘in just 30 minutes’.

And Eurostar has been told to make clear on its website that fares to France ‘from £29 one way’ only apply to a limited number of tickets bought six to 18 weeks before the date of travel.

The Advertising Standards Authority found both companies’ ads misleading and in breach of substantiation rules. Eurostar’s ad also broke pricing rules.

Govia Thameslink said it was removing the Gatwick Express claims and updating media sites to reflect a timetable introduced in May. It said that between April last year and May this year 79.1 per cent of Gatwick Express services arrived on time.

But an ASA spokesman said: ‘Whilst we acknowledged that a proportion of services were delayed due to exceptional or unforeseeable circumstances outside of Gatwick Express’ control, we considered a significant proportion were delayed for reasons within [its] control. As such, we concluded the claims “non-stop to Victoria station in half an hour” and “in just 30 minutes” had not been substantiated and were misleading.’

On Eurostar, the ASA said: ‘The £29 fares made up a very small percentage of one-way tickets within the relevant booking horizon. We therefore did not consider a significant proportion of tickets was available at the “from” price and … the claim was likely to mislead.’

The company provided sales records of £29 fares sold per day, which it believed indicated the seats were readily available. But it accepted the availability period — six to 18 weeks in advance — could have been made clearer and will now be included in the small print.