Southeastern says ‘forget the train, fly to Manchester’

In the world of business, it’s not usually the done thing to advertise a direct competitor. So spotting this advert in a Southeastern train last night made me wonder whether London’s dumbest train operator has a death wish on the rest of the UK rail network.

Southeastern’s fleet of Networker trains, which shuttle through SE London and its suburbs, is plastered with these things – despite the fact that for most of their users, Manston is nowhere near being a “local airport”, due to the inconvenient fact it’s way out near Ramsgate.

In fact, from SE London, it’s probably just as quick to get to Manchester by rail (two hours from Euston) than it is to get to Manston (two hours from Charing Cross).

Even for the lucky so-and-sos who live near to Manston, they’re probably closer to a much-vaunted high speed rail link to St Pancras, which is just a few minutes’ walk away from those trains to Manchester. Much easier than buggering about with the airport. The struggling train company which operates this amazing fast train service? Only Southeastern, of course – the one that claims it helps the environment, but helps promote wasteful internal flights instead, which are helping destroy its own business.

With commercial sense like this, no wonder why we’re having to bung Southeastern cash so it can keep going.