A TRAIN company has been criticised by the advertising watchdog - after a fed-up passenger challenged its boast that it ran efficient services.

Arriva Trains Northern was rapped over the knuckles for misleading claims in a newspaper recruitment advert.

Arriva, which has faced a welter of criticism after slashing its train timetable last year, said it provided "efficient passenger rail services across the North of England".

It went on to describe how it aimed to deliver a "service that excels, every minute, of every hour of every day and night".

The advert was taken to task by an angry member of the public, living in North Yorkshire, who complained to the Advertising Standards Authority that it was misleading.

The authority has now upheld the complaint and warned Arriva not to repeat its claims unless it can prove them.

Arriva said the claim was "aspirational", but this was rejected by the ASA.

Donna Mitchell, of the ASA, said: "Because the advertisers had not shown they provided efficient passenger rail services across the North of England, the authority concluded that the advertisement was likely to mislead."

Arriva said it noted the ASA's decision and had already indicated it would not repeat the reference.

The company was forced to replace hundreds of trains services with buses during its winter timetable after being faced with a severe driver shortage.

The vast majority of services are due to get back to normal by the end of the month. But passengers still face further disruption on the Arriva Trains Northern network as the company grapples with two industrial disputes.

Ticket office and station staff are to stage a walkout on March 1 and 2 in a pay dispute. The strike will coincide with a stoppage by members of the Rail Maritime and Transport union.

The company's advertising own goal has been derided by passenger groups frustrated by its performance.

Peter Davies, chairman of Rail Future Yorkshire, said: "Anything that reminds Arriva of how its service is perceived has to be welcomed."

Brian Milnes, chairman of the Tees Valley branch of Transport 2000, said: "Arriva just has to say 'fair do's' on this one. Customers want a good quality reliable train service and unfortunately they are still not providing this."