Gatwick Express ordered to remove 30-minute advertising claims after frequent delays
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The Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) has ruled that the Gatwick Express railway service cannot claim that it travels “non-stop” to London Victoria “in just 30 minutes” after a significant proportion of trains on the service were found to have been delayed.
Between 30 April and 26 May 20.1 per cent of Gatwick Express trains were delayed with the majority due to reasons within the operator’s control.
Of the delayed services, Govia Thameslink Railway, which operates the route, provided a breakdown of the reasons for the delays.
It said that there were three unforeseeable exceptions to the planned services: if access was required for engineering work; if there was a failure to the infrastructure (e.g. signalling or points failure); and if there was an unavoidable incident (e.g. a person being taken ill on a train or trespasser which may cause unavoidable delays across the network).
It also argued that it was difficult to mitigate against certain delays such as staff sickness and that it used a 2:1 ratio for drivers as well as mandating when drivers could take annual leave to ensure that there was sufficient cover for each train journey.
It explained that if a driver was involved in an operational incident, they were required to take a set amount of time off work to ensure they were fit to return to work.
The ASA said consumers would expect Gatwick Express to achieve the stated journey time barring exceptional or unforeseeable circumstances outside their control.
It said: “Whilst we acknowledged that a proportion of services were delayed due to exceptional or unforeseeable circumstances outside of Gatwick Express’s control, such as track faults, fatalities and power supply failures, we considered that a significant proportion of services were delayed for reasons that were within Gatwick Express’s control.
“As such, we concluded that the claims ‘Non-stop to Victoria station in half an hour’ and ‘in just 30 minutes’ had not been substantiated and were misleading.”
It ruled that the ads must not appear again, adding: “We told Gatwick Express to remove the claims ‘Non-stop to Victoria station in half an hour’ and ‘in just 30 minutes’ unless they could achieve that journey time in most cases, save for exceptional and unforeseeable circumstances outside of Gatwick Express’s control.
The operator has suffered major disruption on certain routes in recent years caused by a number of factors, including industrial disputes, a shortage of drivers, infrastructure failures and the introduction of new timetables on 20 May.
A Gatwick Express spokesman said: “Just a third of Gatwick Express delay minutes were within our control, however we acknowledge the ASA ruling and began withdrawing these adverts many months ago.”