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Millions of pounds a year are lost to the rail industry because of ticket avoidance and abuse. Unfortunately to deal with this measures have to be put in place which can penalise people who have made honest mistakes. In most cases, certainly in the case of a forgotten season ticket, the TOCs customer services will rectify any  genuine issues.

This does not remove the requirement to have a valid  ticket for your journey.

Incidentally it is common practice to notify onboard staff of out of course ticket office closures and also inoperative ticket machines.

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On one occasion I was advised to fare dodge by a conductor, not sure where that leaves things. I used to commute from Bletchley but one night a week used to go to MK Central to meet my wife and family at the ice rink as the two kiddies had coaching sessions in the evening. I used to get off at Bletchley and buy a ticket to MK Central most of the time, however if the guard came through I'd ask to buy a single from Bletchley to MK Central. One time the conductors response was to not bother as she knew the barriers at MK Central were open and so I didn't need a ticket. I offered to buy one anyway and she just shrugged, said it wasn't needed and walked off. I bought one at MK Central anyway (is it worth taking a risk to save less than £4?) but it seemed an odd attitude. Maybe she thought she was being helpful, maybe she just didn't want the hassle of selling a ticket but surely if there was an issue with selling a ticket on the train the answer is to just tell people they need to get off and buy a ticket at the station.

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7 hours ago, Andrew1974 said:

Hi everyone, 

 

Thanks for all your input.

 

just in case there is any doubt my son was not attempting to avoid a fare, was honest about his travel when asked and, to be honest, I if I thought he was actually in the wrong I would just pay the penalty fare.

 

I think the thing that has reall got me riled is the attitude of the railway employee concerned, showing a total lack of empathy and borderline intimidary attitude to a minor.

 

In terms of my 5 ways, 2 relate to the penalty fare notice itself not complying with statutory requirement and the other 3 being circumstances where the regulations indicate a penalty fare should not be issued.

 

I’m going to send my letter in the morning, and will report back on the outcome once I know.

 

 I may well be wasting my time, but as I have now written the letter it is only going to cost me the price of a stamp to send it.

 

Andrew

 

I think one of the reasons for the lack of empathy is that a substantial proportion of those discovered without tickets are chancers and not genuine cases.  RPIs get told a lot of lies and have heard every story there is about why someone doesn't have a ticket.  Whilst not at all condoning their negative attitude to all and sundry I can see why they would develop the attitude that someone is lying unless it is obvious they are not.  Add in the fact that a few RPIs have a bad attitude and some demonstrably do not understand ticket validity to the standard required to be a revenue inspector then there are going to be genuine cases who are badly treated.

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Penalty fares are surely for people trying to avoid paying. Applying it to someone who is genuinely trying to buy a ticket, no matter what they've written into the small print of the rules, is a misuse of the concept. Particularly if they do things like putting a machine in an inconvenient place and then insist that your use it before boarding the hourly train service.

 

A passenger boarding a train without a ticket should seek out the conductor rather than waiting to see if they'd come through, though.

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But as has actually been recommended in this thread you have no proof that people are being honest about their destination. Jump on train in Penzance, get off at Paddington, go to ticket office: "hi, ticket from Ealing Broadway please". Just because you've sought to buy a ticket doens't mean you're not trying to avoid paying.

 

Given how many people are obviously lying how do they exercise discretion? If you're a well to do upstanding looking chap should you be let off, whilst a teenage oik is clearly lying and should be hit with the full force of the regulations? That doesn't bode well for the OP's son!

 

All that said, I do think SWR's stance is good - if you seek the guard/OBS/RPO/whatever and buy a ticket that's vastly better than waiting for them to find you, which arguably shows an intent not to pay, and I do agree it's a little harsh to fine someone who is proactive, but the rules are there, and are clear, just because they've been bent before doesn't mean you can expect that to be the case in perpetuity, see again the speeding example. You'll often get away with it, but that's not going to be a defense if you get caught.

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2 hours ago, Shropshire Lad said:

Millions of pounds a year are lost to the rail industry because of ticket avoidance and abuse.

 

I'd actually say that money has been lost to the various TOC's due to them penny pinching and removing staff from stations for too long a period of time, this allowed a culture of free travel to start and now becme the norm.

 

For my own station, we had a ticket office manned by a clerk for the morning (6 days) and staffed by a railman until 10pm (7 days). This was reduced to just a clerk until midday (ish) for 6 days with no other cover, so evening travel between several stations was unmonitored. A ticket machine was installed but became unusable due to the sun on the screen, this failed regularly and had to be moved. We now have full barriers which have to be Manned near full time, the cost of these were several hundred thousand which now has to be recouped.

 

As far as the question about season tickets is concerned, the procedure from my time in the Booking Office was that if a person mislaid their season they had to purchase a ticket for the day, this was refunded (less 70p admin) on production of the season.  

We did have the instance of Identical twins with the same first initial (R) who shared a season from Royston to KX, when both had to travel they would purchase a ticket then reclaim, this happened so often but no one took notice and thought the season holder was a bit stupid (he had an act) When I spent a month there I noted that at one time there was a scar on the right hand then another time there wasn't,  a bit of digging after work hours and it was obvious what was happening,  all refunds stopped for them. 

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11 hours ago, Jim Martin said:

 

Lots of suburban stations only have ticket-buying facilities on one platform. My local station does. I don't see why that means that I shouldn't have to buy a ticket.

I didn't say it did mean I shouldn't have to buy a ticket.

Edited by Reorte

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From the Oxford Times, another penalty fare story;

 

www.oxfordtimes.co.uk/news/17416772.angry-commuter-hit-with-fine-after-being-late-for-train-at-hanborough-station/

 

I'm not going to comment on the rights or wrongs of the incident, other than to say that if he had made the journey in reverse he would not have been able to access the platform and therefore the train without a ticket (assuming the barriers were operational of course), and that the headline seems deliberately slanted to show the railway in a bad light (nothing new there for the UK media of course).

 

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@chris p bacon The fact that there aren't staff on the station doesn't remove the obligation in Law to purchase a ticket. It is simple economics to make a decision on whether to have staff at a station - plus changes in society. If it costs £75k per annum to employ station staff and you are only loosing £50k revenue then why have a person on the station who wouldn't stop the people who avoid fare anyway? (£75k cost PA assumes a salary of ~£30k PA).

 

I travel a lot around EU and most stations only have a machine, yet no one dodges the fares as society demands that everyone pays their way - for some reason it is seen as acceptable in UK to avoid paying fares unless we are forecred to by a barrier or person. There are very few barriers at railway station outside of the UK also.

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3 hours ago, WIMorrison said:

@chris p bacon The fact that there aren't staff on the station doesn't remove the obligation in Law to purchase a ticket. It is simple economics to make a decision on whether to have staff at a station - plus changes in society. If it costs £75k per annum to employ station staff and you are only loosing £50k revenue then why have a person on the station who wouldn't stop the people who avoid fare anyway? (£75k cost PA assumes a salary of ~£30k PA).

 

I travel a lot around EU and most stations only have a machine, yet no one dodges the fares as society demands that everyone pays their way - for some reason it is seen as acceptable in UK to avoid paying fares unless we are forecred to by a barrier or person. There are very few barriers at railway station outside of the UK also.

 

Re the first point, it was BR who promoted the 'Open Station' concept back in the 1980s, presumably on exactly the basis you say, that whatever revenue was lost was less than the cost of providing barrier staff.

 

Re the second point, travelling around Berlin by rail last year was simplicity itself, with no barriers at any stations, U-Bahn, S-Bahn or main line. There is however a heavy penalty fare for those caught without a valid ticket; 60 Euros IIRC. Ticket Inspectors wear plain clothes, however during a 3-day stay with multiple rail journeys my ticket was only checked once !

It would be interesting to know, if indeed such data is even available, the level of deliberate fare evasion in Germany compared to the UK.

 

 

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As one of those horrible people who check tickets I'd like to throw one more scenario. Would the OP's kid have bought a ticket before he left the destination station if there had been no check or would they have just walked out chuckling to themselves and working out how to spend the money they had "saved"?

 

Unfortunately the majority of people I catch would do the latter. 

 

I suspect the TOCs add extra to the ticket cost just like shops do to the price of goods to counter losses due to shop lifting. If there's a means to buy a ticket and you don't it's theft and it costs all of us in the long run.

 

Trouble is many people don't see it that way even though they'd willingly pay for a taxi or bus.

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15 minutes ago, Hobby said:

 Would the OP's kid have bought a ticket before he left the destination station if there had been no check or would they have just walked out chuckling to themselves and working out how to spend the money they had "saved"?

 

with respect to the OP I think you have to take his word that:

 

Quote

My my kids have continued to travel in the same way they always have, get to station, get on train, buy ticket from guard, or if no guard comes down the train at the destination station (which is manned). 

 

I think the fact that the destination station is manned has no bearing on the child's willingness to pay for the journey

Edited by RedgateModels

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5 hours ago, WIMorrison said:

@chris p bacon The fact that there aren't staff on the station doesn't remove the obligation in Law to purchase a ticket. It is simple economics to make a decision on whether to have staff at a station - plus changes in society. If it costs £75k per annum to employ station staff and you are only loosing £50k revenue then why have a person on the station who wouldn't stop the people who avoid fare anyway? (£75k cost PA assumes a salary of ~£30k PA).

 

I travel a lot around EU and most stations only have a machine, yet no one dodges the fares as society demands that everyone pays their way - for some reason it is seen as acceptable in UK to avoid paying fares unless we are forecred to by a barrier or person. There are very few barriers at railway station outside of the UK also.

 

I can't speak to your experience, obviously, but here's a news article from last year which notes that 7600 people were sent to prison in Germany in 2016 for repeated fare-dodging on public transport (and a complaint from an industry spokesman that this was only 3% of repeat offenders): https://m.dw.com/en/last-stop-jail-how-to-deal-with-fare-dodgers-in-germany/a-42407504

 

Here's another from 2016 where SNCF's losses from fare evasion are estimated at €300 million per year: https://www.railjournal.com/passenger/main-line/sncf-to-launch-tgv-ticket-barrier-trial/

 

And here are the Dutch, reducing the level of fate evasion from its 2015 level of roughly 1000 people fined every day by the expedient of installing ticket barriers at major stations, such that 90% of passengers have to pass through one: https://www.dutchnews.nl/news/2018/12/turnstiles-help-cut-fare-dodging-on-dutch-trains-by-one-third/

 

So let's not get carried away, eh?

 

Jim

 

 

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39 minutes ago, RedgateModels said:

 

with respect to the OP I think you have to take his word that:

 

 

I think the fact that the destination station is manned has no bearing on the child's willingness to pay for the journey

 

I would hope so too. But they would be in the minority. The fact the destination station is manned means the traveller, if honest, is able to buy a ticket  so it is relevant.

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@Hobby if the station isn't manned then you buy a ticket from the machine, having someone there makes no difference to an honest person. 

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Ok I should have said "a means to buy a ticket"... Happy now?!

 

Fact is there are far too many who don't which is the point I was making.

 

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One point occurs to me in all of this.

 

If a company devises a system that specifically excludes the use of legal tender, where there is a physical point of contact, are they in fact creating an unfair condition of sale?

 

To explain:  I have a German debit card.  For reasons that I will not expand upon, this demands that a signature is given and verified.  As such I could not use it in a ticket machine.  If I had a £5 in my pocket, but could not buy a ticket...………………?   Is the TOC at fault for creating unreasonable payment conditions, and therefore acting in the eyes of the law unfairly?

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11 minutes ago, Andy Hayter said:

One point occurs to me in all of this.

 

If a company devises a system that specifically excludes the use of legal tender, where there is a physical point of contact, are they in fact creating an unfair condition of sale?

 

To explain:  I have a German debit card.  For reasons that I will not expand upon, this demands that a signature is given and verified.  As such I could not use it in a ticket machine.  If I had a £5 in my pocket, but could not buy a ticket...………………?   Is the TOC at fault for creating unreasonable payment conditions, and therefore acting in the eyes of the law unfairly?

 

Legal tender is used to settle a debt and it doesn't include electronic payment. If you're buying something, like a train ticket, there is no debt incurred. Methods of payment are based upon an agreement between the buyer and the seller, so legal tender doesn't come into it. A company could insist that all tickets are purchased using apples and they'd be perfectly within their rights to refuse to sell you a ticket if you didn't agree to pay in apples. That wouldn't be a very good business model though!

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My own take on this,was the GBRF railtour in September..

 

i travelled from from my home station in Surrey on an ordinary return to didcot at 4pm... Walk up fare. I validated that ticket, on Southern and the Trainline that routing via London terminals, hence Paddington was valid for the trains I sought.

 

at Paddington the signs indicated that my type of offpeak fare was not valid for the train I wanted to take.

 

i immediately went to the desk, this guy says no.

i went to another, he said no.

annoyed I went to the ticket office, he put In my route / fares on to his terminal, and sure enough it and the ticket came up valid, even though the outside displays said no, the speaker says no, and the platform staff said no.

 

he promptly rubber stamped my ticket valid.

in the end, no one checked my ticket, I didn’t exit the platform at Didcot (as I was there to see 87002).

 

now.. computer says yes.. literally everyone else, except the ticket office said no... how would that stand up on board ?

 

 Incidentally, I put the same route in tonight... The fare / route and trains are valid... even if the signs at Paddington and all it’s staff say no.

 

 

 

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Edited by adb968008

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As an addendum to my other post (I haven’t figured how to organise the pictures yet)...

heres the fares for the same trains direct from Paddington... as you see Offpeak fares are not valid on fast services, if your journey starts at Paddington...

note the 1700, 1715 and 1730 departures from Paddington, compared to above.

 

this is is a system anomaly, but one that can easily trap people. They buy a perfectly valid ticket at the ticket office or online (in this case GWRs website) and find onboard they are liable to a penalty fare for an invalid ticket.

 

but for my being persistent, I’d have had to either buy a second ticket, or miss 87002.

 

admittedly I’ve just shown anyone who wants to take either the 1700/1715 and 1730 trains a way to save £36.30 from their current fares, buy buying a Zone5 - outward ticket, if you want the hassle.

CA5AE979-9A0A-4E13-8A93-FA71CB227028.png

Edited by adb968008

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On 08/02/2019 at 17:56, Rods_of_Revolution said:

 

Legal tender is used to settle a debt and it doesn't include electronic payment. If you're buying something, like a train ticket, there is no debt incurred. Methods of payment are based upon an agreement between the buyer and the seller, so legal tender doesn't come into it. A company could insist that all tickets are purchased using apples and they'd be perfectly within their rights to refuse to sell you a ticket if you didn't agree to pay in apples. That wouldn't be a very good business model though!

Except that with a debit card, no debt is incurred. In using the card, the purchaser is authorising the seller to deduct the necessary funds from his bank account, with the system verifying that the customer has sufficient funds available. In that, it is different to a credit card, which involves the customer paying by means of a third party's funds, with a separate agreement between the custome and the credit company to reimburse the latter for the funds loaned.

 

Jim

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I've just read through this thread and found it quite interesting.

 

Local trains around Cardiff aren't covered by the penalty fare scheme. I believe instead that having been caught without a ticket, you may be offered a chance to pay £70 'costs' instead of being prosecuted. But as these aren't true penalty fares, all the usual safeguards relating to them don't apply.

 

On my local line, the procedure used to be to purchase tickets on the train (I don't think Coryton ever had a ticket office - it was a GWR "halt"). A few years ago a ticket machine appeared. This changes everything and means that it is now a legal requirement to purchase a ticket before travel. For some reason Arriva, as it was then, chose not to publicise this well. Indeed the first warnings were in small print at the bottom of posters which had a headline along the lines of "Relax - more time at the station" which didn't make a lot of sense.

 

Guards have continued to sell tickets on trains as before without warning passengers that they should use the machines and I'm sure a lot of people have no idea that they are risking getting themselves into trouble by not using the machines, although the warnings on posters are now less subtle.

 

Why wouldn't people use them? Well, the machines are slow so if a few people want tickets you're likely to miss your train unless you turn up ridiculously early. It can be rather nerve-wracking waiting for the tickets to print as the departure time gets closer. The machines don't take cash. They seem reasonably reliable now but for years (I am not exaggerating) they had a habit of taking your money, recording the sale as made, but not actually producing any tickets. Guards were actively encouraging people not to use the machines...

 

The idea that revenue protection staff can tell if a machine is out of order does worry me. Credit cards sometimes fail to go through for one reason or another. Sometimes the machine becomes so slow as to be unusable...but presumably hasn't reported itself as failed. 

 

OK if that happens you should actively seek out the guard. But what if they are in one unit and you're in another (not a problem on my line, but other routes use coupled units without gangways between them). When the train arrives do you have to spot which unit the guard sticks his head out of and sprint towards it?

 

I realise that revenue protection is a real issue (it's amazing how many people get on at Central and buy a ticket starting there despite the station having barriers) but I think providing a single, slow, ticket machine and then giving mixed messages by continuing to sell tickets on trains as if nothing had changed is not the right way to go about things unless they are actively trying to catch people out.

 

Finally, someone mentioned plain clothes inspectors in Germany. I was amused last year to see three plain clothes inspectors on the Munich S-bahn complete with rucksacks with the DB logo on...

 

 

 

 

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On 08/02/2019 at 08:37, Zomboid said:

 

A passenger boarding a train without a ticket should seek out the conductor rather than waiting to see if they'd come through, though.

 

I'd agree, but (serious question) what should a passenger do if the guard stays holed up in the rear cab?

 

I've always assumed that if the guard is too occupied to come through the train for commercial duties then I should leave them to it, but is one expected to go banging on the cab door? 

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19 minutes ago, Coryton said:

 

I'd agree, but (serious question) what should a passenger do if the guard stays holed up in the rear cab?

 

I've always assumed that if the guard is too occupied to come through the train for commercial duties then I should leave them to it, but is one expected to go banging on the cab door? 

 

I have indeed sought out the guard on a train and been advised to fare dodge because it was easier than issuing a ticket.

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During the course of my 30 year railway career I commuted by train for the vast majority of it, on all three shifts.

Over the years I overheard all sorts of excuses, sometimes the passenger seemed seemed to have genuinely lost a ticket. 

Far more often though there were all manner of reasons for no ticket, often the passenger had walked to the end of the train,

for no other apparent reason than to avoid the ticket check, or feigned sleep, or lack of English language. 

 

On a late night service one of my former colleagues, who was a guard, was offered a blade in lieu of a ticket, what would you choose?

 

cheers 

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