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Hello

 

My partner's received a letter following an incident where they were stopped at a train station for not having a ticket.

 

They've always bought a ticket in the past - usually from the machine at the station where they board or at the ticket office (and do still have some from prior to the incident) but on the day in question the ticket machine wasn't working and there was a queue at the ticket office and they were in a hurry as the train was in. The train fare was less than £2.

 

Under the assumption that it would be ok to buy a ticket on the train as they had seen other people do on many occasions they boarded the train but the conductor didn't come down the train and as a result they had no ticket on arrival at the station.

 

My partner has now received a letter saying that they are considering whether to prosecute under Railway Byelaws 2005 or The Regulation of Railways Act 1889.

 

Any advice gratefully recieved. Any experience of likely outcomes? My partner is worried that it may go to court.

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Why was no Penalty Fare charged?

 

Although the OP doesn't say where they were travelling, or on what TOC, the obvious answer is that they were probably not travelling in a controlled ticket area.

 

If you tell us where the journey was from & to, I can possibly give you a more useful answer Unhappy 1.

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Why was no Penalty Fare charged?
Why would one have been? It's not essential, afteral. Although sensible if excersizing some common sense, as you know, a PF doesn't have to be issued in these circumstances.
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Why would one have been? It's not essential, afteral. Although sensible if excersizing some common sense, as you know, a PF doesn't have to be issued in these circumstances.

 

Absolutely right Stigy, people get hung up on Penalty Fares, which are only one of a whole raft of ways of dealing with these matters and are not avaiable to many staff in huge areas of the rail network.

 

Even where the Penalty Fare is available as a remedy, there is never any obligation to issue one.

 

.

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I do believe that there are guidelines on how long you should have to wait to get served, if your partner waited in excess of those times then I would of thought there would be some mitigating circumstances, especially if the ticket machine wasn't working. (My local paper recently ran a report where they timed how long passangers had to wait and a large % had to wait far in excess of the guideline times).

 

I was under the impression that a penalty fare should be issued unless there are other circumstances which made it quite clear that the person was intended to avopd paying his fare...I'm sure our 2 resident experts can fill you in more.

 

Andy

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My question was purposefully asked to prise further info from the OP.

Im surprised at the responses above jumping to all sorts of conclusions.

 

Mine too SRPO, but I asked 'Unhappy1' directly, sorry if you got the wrong impression from my response and thus far, we are none the wiser.

Edited by Old-CodJA
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Hi,

 

I'm not sure why they didn't issue a penalty fare. It wasn't mentioned when my partner was stopped. Looking at information about the station online it says that penalty fares don't apply to the station they travelled from - what does that mean? That they can't offer a penalty fare but have to consider prosecution?

 

We'd always thought that you could buy a ticket on the train but you couldn't get any discounts - such as student discount etc.

 

They were travelling from a Northern Rail operated station to a Midland Rail operated station.

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I suggest you provide full details of the incident if you want any useful advice, on the face of it the only reason I can see for prosecution is if the revenue staff thought the fare was at risk.

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Hi,

 

I'm not sure why they didn't issue a penalty fare. It wasn't mentioned when my partner was stopped. Looking at information about the station online it says that penalty fares don't apply to the station they travelled from - what does that mean? That they can't offer a penalty fare but have to consider prosecution?

 

We'd always thought that you could buy a ticket on the train but you couldn't get any discounts - such as student discount etc.

 

They were travelling from a Northern Rail operated station to a Midland Rail operated station.

 

Yes, if Penalty Fares are not applicable from a station then the staff cannot issue one.

 

Factually, it doesnt really matter whether penalty fares are applicable or not, if there were facilities available at the station, the traveller has a responsibility to use them before boarding a train, but as SRPO says, we will need more detail to attempt to understand why the incident has been reported in this way.

 

The machines are generally computer monitored for availabilty so the claim that it was out of order can be confirmed and the record should show whether queueing times at the booking office were excessive.

Edited by Old-CodJA
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What I don't understand is why, if the person in question got on the train at a station operated by a rail operator whose terms and conditions of carriage don't require them to have a ticket when they get on the train, another entirely different rail operator should be able to prosecute them under a different set of terms and conditions.

 

That hardly seems fair and/or reasonable.

 

Not to mention which, making a criminal of someone who has the intention to buy a ticket and just got caught out by the railway equivalent of a firm of ambulance-chasers hardly seems fair either.

 

On top of that I don't know of any other private company which could invoke legislation of this kind in such a summary fashion.

 

Strikes me this is just a throwback to the trains being a nationalised industry.

 

Also - if Northern Rail's train clearly display posters on the trains which state (in effect) "If you get on the train without a ticket we can only sell you the full-price ticket" why can't the defendent counter-sue Northern Rail for displaying misleading information?

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What I don't understand is why, if the person in question got on the train at a station operated by a rail operator whose terms and conditions of carriage don't require them to have a ticket when they get on the train, another entirely different rail operator should be able to prosecute them under a different set of terms and conditions.

 

That hardly seems fair and/or reasonable.

 

Not to mention which, making a criminal of someone who has the intention to buy a ticket and just got caught out by the railway equivalent of a firm of ambulance-chasers hardly seems fair either.

 

On top of that I don't know of any other private company which could invoke legislation of this kind in such a summary fashion.

 

Strikes me this is just a throwback to the trains being a nationalised industry.

 

Also - if Northern Rail's train clearly display posters on the trains which state (in effect) "If you get on the train without a ticket we can only sell you the full-price ticket" why can't the defendent counter-sue Northern Rail for displaying misleading information?

 

Northern Rail do not display posters that say any such thing and neither do their signs intimate that. All the information says is Penalty Fares do not apply from this particular station.

 

Northern is a part of the Association of Train Operating Companies and they all operate under the same legislations. Your argument is about as sensible as saying that, although all travel firms are (or should be) members of ABTA, they should all have different rules for the basic care of their customers.

 

In common with all rail operators, Northern Rail provide passenger services, which are subject to National Rail Conditions of Carriage and The National Railways Byelaws (2005)

 

These Byelaws make a strict liability requirement that, where pre-purchase facilities are available, the intending traveller is required to pay the fare and obtain a ticket BEFORE boarding any train unless specifically directed to do otherwise by an authorised person. Such Byelaws have been in place for more than 60 years and other legislations covering the same subject for more than 140 years. There are many similar 'summary' legislations on the Statute Book covering a wide range of subjects.

 

In the case of 'pay-train' routes, the fact that there are no pre-purchase facilities and there are signs saying 'pay on train', then it is acceptable only on those routes to board and immediately pay the on train staff. Northern is not generally a pay-train operator.

 

Any person who does not follow the rules lays themselves open to a charge under these Byelaws. The most common being 'Fail to show a valid ticket on demand' which carries a maximum penalty on conviction of a fine of up to £1000. (Your example of ambulance chasing is way wide of the mark, this scenario is much more in common with a red traffic light. If you ignore it, you risk facing the consequences.)

 

In some areas, and only where permitted by the Department of Transport, rail operators are permitted to impose a Penalty Fare as a deterrent to passengers simply boarding and inteding to pay only if asked to do so. Where the DoT do not authorise that option, it cannot be used.

 

As far as queueing is concerned, there are no strict rules about queueing time, but there are time guidelines described by the various rail company Charter documents. Effectively, a promise to serve you promptly and if the recommended times are exceeded then you may not be issued a penalty notice. CCTV operates at all stations and covers booking offices and ticket machines too. The availability of facilities, including length of queues and whether machines were giving change or accepting cards correctly are monitored, so if the traveller was likely to have been inconvenienced, they will not be penalised.

 

That is not the same for those people who see a couple of people waiting at a booking office and another using the machine so consider themselves too important to queue as many have found out when giving that defence to a Magistrate. The usual comment is 'My train was in so I couldn't wait'. The Magistrates will usually accept the rail company argument that the traveller was responsible for getting to the station earlier and paying before travelling. In effect, it isn't 'my' train until 'I' have paid to use it.

 

In 1978 the Appeal Court decided that a traveller who knows they should pay the fare and where facilities are available to do so, who boards the train without paying, but intending to wait until asked to pay, then the more serious offence of 'intending to avoid a fare' contrary to Section 5.3.a of The Regulation of Railways Act (1889) may correctly be charged

 

I'm not saying this is what happened in the OPs case, but a proper evaluation will determine the facts.

Edited by Old-CodJA
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"Northern Rail do not display posters that say any such thing and neither do their signs intimate that. All the information says is Penalty Fares do not apply from this particular station."

 

National TOC states: "If you travel in a train: (a) without a ticket; or (b) the circumstances described in any of Conditions 10, 11, 12, 18, 19, 22, 30, 35 and 39 apply; you will be liable to pay the full single fare or full return fare or, if appropriate, a Penalty Fare (see Condition 4) for your journey."

 

"Any person who does not follow the rules lays themselves open to a charge under these Byelaws. The most common being 'Fail to show a valid ticket on demand' which carries a maximum penalty on conviction of a fine of up to £1000."

 

Then why do the TOC contain a condition which makes a passenger liable to pay the full single fare, or full return fare if that passenger boards the train without a ticket? If you must not board the train without a valid ticket why have any condition which allows the passenger to buy a ticket at all? What, therefore, is the purpose the latter part of TOC clause 2? Is it to allow the passenger to buy a ticket if they don't have one, or to allow the rail firm to make a decision based on circumstances? Why then would the third-party firm doing the investigations not seek first to recover the full single fare or return fare as stated in TOC 2(a) and instead attempt to criminalise someone who may have a perfectly reasonable explanation for their behaviour? Is this not a disproportionate response to a minor offence in much the same way that ambulance-chasing lawyers, or 'have you had a fall at work' solicitors will attempt to press the most serious charge without any regard for reasonable explanations because this will bring in most money for themselves and their clients?

 

Two asides follow:

 

I would also say that in 1978 the railways were a nationalised industry, as they are no longer a nationalised industry I don't see why the rail network - being a private enterprise now - should have any recourse to criminal legislation. Every other service provider has access to civil legislation which is more than adequate for dealing with matters such as fare evasion and is far less draconian than The Regulation of Railways Act 1889.

 

Is it not the case that those people who provide a false name and address are likely to get away without paying their fares. Someone who is honest and who gives a name and address is more likely to be prosecuted. The net result will be that the law will only catch the honest and law-abiding who make minor infractions, and will fail to address the problem is it intended to address: Persistent intentional refusal to pay for train tickets.

Edited by Sleepy_Head
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One other point is that whether the ticket inspector comes through the train or not is not a legal defence since the passenger requiring a ticket must seek them out legally, not vice versa.

Private companies have recourse to both civil and criminal legislation: they can persue a case via small claims etc and also report as theft/fraud for the police/CPS to consider.

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One other point is that whether the ticket inspector comes through the train or not is not a legal defence since the passenger requiring a ticket must seek them out legally, not vice versa.

 

Even if the conductor gets on the train and doesn't come out of their office marked 'Private'?

 

I assume this will be because of precedent, legally speaking. Surely though that's unfair to customers? Any conductor in any other walk of life (trams, buses, &c.) who doesn't walk up and down the vehicle asking for fares just isn't doing their job.

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Even if the conductor gets on the train and doesn't come out of their office marked 'Private'?

 

I assume this will be because of precedent, legally speaking. Surely though that's unfair to customers? Any conductor in any other walk of life (trams, buses, &c.) who doesn't walk up and down the vehicle asking for fares just isn't doing their job.

 

Yes, it is indeed through precedent, and I agree to a large extent it is unfair to bona fide passengers who wish to buy a ticket (not 'customers' as they haven't purchased as yet -pedantic but correct) however, the majority of staff who are seen selling/checking tickets are not on the train solely to do this task, and so IME are busy elsewhere: the larger/busier the train the more likely it is you will not see the 'conductor' during shorter parts of the journey.

Regular fare evaders rely on this on a daily basis 'not my fault if the guard can't be bothered', etc., are the constant excuses given, inevitably sometimes this excuse will be 'valid'.

So the onus is on the passenger knowing they have no ticket but are legally obliged to obtain one at the first opportunity to seek out the conductor to obtain one, not the other way round.

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Sleepyhead, I'll take your points as you raise them:

 

National TOC states: "If you travel in a train: (a) without a ticket; or (b) the circumstances described in any of Conditions 10, 11, 12, 18, 19, 22, 30, 35 and 39 apply; you will be liable to pay the full single fare or full return fare or, if appropriate, a Penalty Fare (see Condition 4) for your journey."

 

"Any person who does not follow the rules lays themselves open to a charge under these Byelaws. The most common being 'Fail to show a valid ticket on demand' which carries a maximum penalty on conviction of a fine of up to £1000."

 

Then why do the TOC contain a condition which makes a passenger liable to pay the full single fare, or full return fare if that passenger boards the train without a ticket? If you must not board the train without a valid ticket why have any condition which allows the passenger to buy a ticket at all? What, therefore, is the purpose the latter part of TOC clause 2? Is it to allow the passenger to buy a ticket if they don't have one, or to allow the rail firm to make a decision based on circumstances?

 

This recognises that, the member of staff detecting the traveller without ticket may accept that immediate prosecution might be permissible but considers it to be OTT and that a Penalty Fare cannot be charged because there is no DoT authority on that particular line, so may use discretion to charge a fare without penalty. It does make clear that only the single walk up fare can be accepted in these circumstances.

 

Why then would the third-party firm doing the investigations not seek first to recover the full single fare or return fare as stated in TOC 2(a)

 

This is easily answered. The fare is due there and then, at the time of travel and not later. If the traveller cannot / will not pay the single fare at the time, then the TOC is not obliged to allow deferred payment and may proceed in accordance with the Byelaws or RRA 1889 as appropriate. If they do allow a late payment, they are entitled to claim their costs in recovering that unpaid fare and if people persit in failing to pay, they will put the matter to summary action and ask the Magistrates to award all of their costs as well as the fare on conviction.

 

If you cannot or will not pay on demand, you have no right to use the service.

 

Two asides follow:

 

I would also say that in 1978 the railways were a nationalised industry, as they are no longer a nationalised industry I don't see why the rail network - being a private enterprise now - should have any recourse to criminal legislation. Every other service provider has access to civil legislation which is more than adequate for dealing with matters such as fare evasion and is far less draconian than The Regulation of Railways Act 1889.

 

These Byelaws and other relevant legislation such as the Railways Act have been revised by the Department for Transport and in fact, penalties have been strengthened since the year 2000 taking account of modern times and as always, the law has been framed to take account of the society it is designed to regulate.

 

Is it not the case that those people who provide a false name and address are likely to get away without paying their fares.

 

No, rail officers as they are termed in the Act, have much better access to means to identify offenders now and in some circumstances a specific power of arrest for exactly that reason. With CCTV so widespread, plus Police support available much more readily than in the past, far fewer get away with giving false details. Some inevitably will, but the law also allows for greater penalties in dealing with these people when caught too.

 

Someone who is honest and who gives a name and address is more likely to be prosecuted. The net result will be that the law will only catch the honest and law-abiding who make minor infractions, and will fail to address the problem is it intended to address: Persistent intentional refusal to pay for train tickets.

 

Someone who is honest, will have got a ticket if they could and will not therefore be reported. If they genuinely could not get one, they will be sold a ticket.

 

The name and address will only be requested if there is reason to report an offence or issue a penalty. There is a legal obligation to give a correct name and address when asked in these circumstances and a separate penalty at law for failing to do so.

 

Even if the conductor gets on the train and doesn't come out of their office marked 'Private'? I assume this will be because of precedent, legally speaking. Surely though that's unfair to customers? Any conductor in any other walk of life (trams, buses, &c.) who doesn't walk up and down the vehicle asking for fares just isn't doing their job.

 

That really is not so is it?

 

If you go into a supermarket and take an item off the shelf, it is up to YOU to seek out the till and pay for it.

 

If you board a bus, you either show a valid ticket as you get on or pay the fare and if you do not, you are unlikely to be allowed to travel.

 

Where there is a pay-on-train policy, the signs say so and that's where someone will come along and ask you to pay.

 

On all other services the onus is on the traveller to pay first and the staff to check that they have done so.

Edited by Old-CodJA
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> Someone who is honest, will have got a ticket if they could and will not therefore be reported.

 

Someone who is honest may be under the wrong impression. Your application of the rules allows no possibility of mistake. That's hardly a fair application of the law and it's not the reason the law exists.

 

> The name and address will only be requested if there is reason to report an offence or issue a penalty. There is a legal obligation to give a correct name and address when asked in these circumstances and a separate penalty at law for failing to do so.

 

Except that if the person wilfully carries no id on them with the express intention of evading a fare they are unlikely to be prosecuted because they will have supplied a false name and address, won't they?

 

> That really is not so is it?

 

Well yes it is, which is why I wrote it.

 

 

> If you go into a supermarket and take an item off the shelf, it is up to YOU to seek out the till and pay for it.

 

That's not a valid comparison because food-shopping is an entirely different industry which doesn't rely on people selling tickets in order to purchase food.

 

 

> If you board a bus, you either show a valid ticket as you get on or pay the fare and if you do not, you are unlikely to be allowed to travel.

 

OK, so trains are like buses now? OK, so where is the physical barrier which prevents you from utilising the service? Where is the person checking your ticket before you get on the train at a non-barried train station?

 

 

> On all other services the onus is on the traveller to pay first and the staff to check that they have done so.

 

Unlike many other ticket-based systems. Perhaps the railways should print - in large letters - the words 'YOU MAY NOT BOARD THE TRAIN WITHOUT FIRST BUYING A TICKET' on stations rather than simply fulfilling their minimum legal obligations and printing the regulations - complete with legal mumbo-jumbo - in small type on a poster stuck up a corner?

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actually just a minor point in reading this interesting thread but relevant all the same:

Most of the rail byelaws started in 1884/5/1894? (someone will clarify I'm sure) under the regulation of railways act.

British Railways (RIP) was only united & nationalised between 1945-1990, therefore the majority of the legislation and amendments were made during private ownership, although to be fair, a monopoly is a monopoly, no-one who had any sense wanted a nationalised monopoly turned into a lot of privatised monopolies, least of all the staff, but that's another argument!

 

On the subject of rules being made obvious or not, I sympathise that most rail travellers rely on poor information both that provided by the TOCs and their staff and what they (or think they) see every day whilst travelling to make their own conclusions on what 'the rule' is.

 

To be fair all round, I would liken it more to a financial or insurance contract that shopping per se:

It doesn't matter how unfair I think it is, but if I agree to be bound by a contract without looking at the small print (however small or large that may be in real life) I can hardly complain about it later, I have no legal leg to stand on.

I'm afraid as with most things in life, it is the 5% (+/-) of thieves who travel by rail who have caused these rules to be made AND enforced and inevitably this rather 'broad sword' will catch out the unwary rather than the out & out criminal.

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The modern disease.....people cannot take responsibility for their own actions anymore, they have to be held by the hand & told what to do.

When they 'make a mistake' its someone elses fault.

Its very simple.

You have to pay before you get on the train if facilities are available to buy a ticket or permit to travel, if there are no ticketing facilities you must pay at the first available opportunity.

It is not up to the train company to ensure you pay.....its up to you.

Simples.

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Timbo is right, the original Byelaws go back to the mid 1840s too and I only referred to the modern format as these are the relevant legislation today.

 

I'm not going to expand all the silly argument about food shopping etc, though the comparison is exactly right. As the intending purchaser of goods or service you know that you must pay.

 

I'm sorry if you cannot accept the fact Sleepyhead, but if there is a facility to pay and you know you need to pay then why should you not pay?

 

SRPO is right, far too many people now need someone else to do their thinking for them.

 

Why do you always need a physical barrier? I believe that everyone has a right to be trusted until they show that our trust is misplaced. Your suggestion seems to claim that the trust is always misplaced and must be physically regulated. I don't buy that I'm afraid.

 

Having been involved in enforcement and prosecution of these matters for more than 30 years I am very proud of a reputation for accepting a very much higher percentage of travellers appeals than most and also very rarely seeing anyone acquitted of the offence charged.

 

I shall continue with myapplication and interpretation for now.

 

 

.

Edited by Old-CodJA
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I was under the impression that a penalty fare should be issued unless there are other circumstances which made it quite clear that the person was intended to avopd paying his fare...I'm sure our 2 resident experts can fill you in more.

 

Andy

No, that's not the case. However, the Penalty Fare (PF) is an easy disposal and erradicates alot of court time. It can be abused though, with some staff issuing a PF to those who have had several in the past and often try their luck. The PF system is much the same as Penalty Notices for Disorder (PND) or Fixed Penalty Notices (FPN), in that it saves the courts dealing with low-level crime and/or disorder, and is meant as a deterrant.

 

I think that Penalty Fares should be issued under the same guidelines as PNDs and FPNs in that if you've been issued one for the same offence in the past year (or six months...I forget, lol), then this means of disposal is no longer an option and the person should be reported. Or maybe I'm too harsh. :twisted:

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No, that's not the case. However, the Penalty Fare (PF) is an easy disposal and erradicates alot of court time. It can be abused though, with some staff issuing a PF to those who have had several in the past and often try their luck. The PF system is much the same as Penalty Notices for Disorder (PND) or Fixed Penalty Notices (FPN), in that it saves the courts dealing with low-level crime and/or disorder, and is meant as a deterrant.

 

I think that Penalty Fares should be issued under the same guidelines as PNDs and FPNs in that if you've been issued one for the same offence in the past year (or six months...I forget, lol), then this means of disposal is no longer an option and the person should be reported. Or maybe I'm too harsh. :twisted:

 

I agree Stigy and so do many of the TOCs where PFs are authorised too now.

 

When an inspector / conductor / train manager makes the ID check to issue the PF, if IRCAS or RPSS advise that a previous notice has been recently issued, many TOCs now take the view that staff should not issue another one, this passenger has obviously been warned.

 

Report the offence.

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We had a guideline when I set up the barriers at Reading station for UPFN (i.e. I haven't got a ticket or means to buy one): we would issue ONE and ONE only and warn in no uncertain terms that it was ONCE only and what the passenger could expect if the offence was repeated.

I have no doubt we would have done the same with a PF had Reading been in the enforced PF zone at the time.

 

We DID indeed get repeat offenders: they were all reported for prosecution, and I seem to remember there was a VERY high percentage of convictions (over 98%) when reported. In fact the only ones I remember in 2 years who didn't get prosecuted were the ones who turned up from local stations whilst we were busy 24/7 dealing with 'reading festival' fare evaders -we simply took them back to the trains they had got off and despatched them back to whence they came!

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