'Public' Great Western Railway poster ruled misleading
A railway operator has been told not to mislead people by suggesting it is publicly owned in its advertising.
A poster produced by Great Western Railway (GWR) stated that "the railway belongs to the region it serves".
The Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) has ruled this was misleading because it was likely to make people think it was owned by the public.
A GWR spokesman said the firm was "disappointed" by the ruling but apologised if the advert was not clear.
He said: "It was never our intention to suggest GWR is a publicly-owned company, instead we are proud of the work we do as a private company to benefit the region."
The watchdog received five complaints about a poster at London's Paddington station after GWR changed its name from First Great Western.
Mick Cash, general secretary of the Rail, Maritime and Transport union, described the advert as an "outrageous stunt".
An ASA spokesman said: "We considered that the use of the world 'belongs' was likely to be understood to imply public, as opposed to private, ownership.
"We told Great Western Railway not to suggest in future that the railway franchise was publicly owned, if that was not the case."
GWR, which is owned by the company FirstGroup, said it was not planning to run the advert again.