REPORTER Dale Haslam continues his regular blog about his daily train commute in and out of Bolton

SUMMER will soon be here and our friends at Transpennine Express (TPX) are going on a charm offensive to draw in new customers.

The firm, which runs trains through Bolton and onto Manchester Airport, Blackpool, Barrow and Scotland, has launched a television advert that shows its cleverly designed characters in action.

The miniature men and women will be no strangers to TPX customers as they have been adorning posters at stations for years, with their funky clothes and strange haircuts.

But, I must admit, I did have a little chuckle to myself when I watched the story of the advert unfold.

To the tune from Rocky, it begins with dozens of balloon-wielding characters waving off a couple, who are sat on a train leaving a station.

The train passed through open countryside, passed galloping cows, a group of cheerleaders on a bridge and two people in a hot-air balloon before arriving at another station where a delightful crowd awaits.

I particularly loved the subtle propaganda in the shape of dozens upon dozens of cars completely gridlocked on a motorway as the train goes speeding by.

It would have been more entertaining if the story mirrored real life.

For a start, the couple would not have been able to get a seat and would not have seen the waving crowd as they would be squashed up against a wall.

Besides, they would be too moody to enjoy the party, given what they just paid for a ticket.

The motorway would have been flowing freely and the reception party would have been banned from the platform by the killjoy station staff as they do not have tickets.

On a serious note, while it is good TPX takes such an off-beat approach to advertising with its colourful characters, regular train users would probably watch this advert and think ‘is this some parallel universe to what I experience ever day?’

In my view, TPX would be better off focussing on its strong points — hassle-free airport travel, fast travel between town centres and getting you home after a night out.

Let us see what the next advert will bring.