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MELBOURNE commuters say the latest campaign to promote train travel is a con.
Reality: A crowded peak-hour train.
Television advertisements for Connex featuring faded Scottish singer Sheena Easton went to air this week.
The campaign was launched last Sunday as Connex swallowed up services formerly operated by M>Train.
In the public transport equivalent of big, succulent burgers, the Connex ad shows cheerful, comfortable and almost all seated passengers singing Easton's 1980 hit Morning Train (Nine to Five).
After the clean, brand-new train pulls up at a station, Easton boards the carriage, hears the singing, and screams.
Regular commuters might find the portrayal of train travel unrealistic, but they agree there's plenty to scream about.
Simon Sanderson, who catches the train daily from Sandown Park, said Connex was looking through rose-coloured glasses.
"The reality is, it's not like the ad at all," Mr Sanderson said.
"If you're coming from Pakenham, Cranbourne or Frankston, by the time you get to Caulfield, it's hard enough to get on the train, let alone get a seat."
Regular train user David Turk, of St Kilda, said the money could have been better spent.
"What a waste of money to bring her out and scream at the end of it," Mr Turk said.
Public Transport Users Association president Daniel Bowen said advertising was a valid way of promoting services.
"It's not going to achieve any sustained growth in customers unless the services meet expectations," Mr Bowen said.
"It's amusing enough, but it's no more accurate than you'd expect any advertising to be."
This week, the Herald Sun put the Easton ad to the test and found peak-hour trains so crowded passengers had to press their hands on to the ceiling to stay standing.
At North Melbourne station, a mother was forced to walk along two carriages of a Werribee-bound train before finding room to get on.
She was so desperate to catch the train, she forced the pram on to the carriage while the doors were closing.
Connex spokeswoman Lea Jaensch said the company was thrilled with the response to the ad campaign. "The ad is not meant to depict a 'slice of life'," she said.
"It is a cheerful musical-style ad that is designed to be pure theatre. The principle of TV advertising is to show the product in its best light, be memorable, attract awareness and attention. This ad has accomplished all of that."
Ms Jaensch said the
ad depicted one carriage on one journey at an undetermined time in the morning.
"It is not representative of every train, every carriage, every morning. It is not supposed to be reality TV."
Ms Jaensch said Connex had received no complaints about the ad.
Herald Sun/News Interactive
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