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East Coast Trains unpaid fare notice

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Hi there


I bought advance tickets to from Kings Cross to Darlington return in May - £94 altogether. My return ticket was for the 4.31pm train to Kings Cross from Darlington. I was early, sitting in the cafe watching the world cup final. I heard an announcement for a train to Kings Cross, so got on the train, not realising it was a 4.20 train to Kings Cross. The train apparently departed Darlington at 4.22pm - 9 minutes before mine. It arrived at Kings Cross about 2 minutes after the 4.31 was meant to. There were heaps of spare seats on the train.


When a ticket inspector told me (to my complete shock) that I was on the wrong train she gave me 2 options:

1) buy a ticket for that train on the spot for £99 or

2) take an unpaid fare notice - £127.50 and pay or dispute it within 10 days.

She told me if I bought the £99 ticket I would lose the option to dispute. I took the £127.50 notice, wrote a letter to RPSS and sent it off along with payment details so they wouldn't whack on an extra fee while they were processing my letter.


Eventually (after the £127.50 had been taken from my account) I received a form letter refusing to waive the fee.


I know technically I was in the wrong, but I want to take this further on the grounds that:

- the £127.50 (on top of my original £44 ticket) is a totally disproportionate to the offence, which was clearly unintentional and did not disadvantage East Coast Trains

- I was told I could not challenge the fare if I paid £99 on the spot - this doesn't seem right


Anyone got any ideas? Should I write to East Coast? Complain to my MP?



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By paying the £99 you have paid for the journey, but although they are right in that there would be no official appeals process as there would be with the UFN, you could always have taken it up with East Coast Trains instead.


To be honest this seems to have been dealt with as I would expect it to be, and by paying for the other ticket, or even the UFN, it's better than the equivalent Penalty Fare should they apply on your route, or worse, a summons to court. £127.50 seems strange, unless an admin charge is added, which I was under the impression wasn't the case unless the UFN was left and ignored.

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I am not going to put any argument that suggests your frustration isn't perfectly understandable, however the problem that you have is the fact that the terms & conditions of these advance purchase tickets are perfectly clear and if a traveller breaches the conditions, whether accidentally or not, the TOC is able to charge another fare.


From a purely personal viewpoint, I think that is unreasonable when there is no pecuniary advantage gained by the traveller and when no-one else is inconvenienced, but as I say that is a purely personal view.


If you arbitrarily breach the strict validity terms of the reduced fare ticket, the conditions make clear that you will be treated as if no ticket is held and you will have to buy a new ticket.


I do believe that is an acceptable remedy when (as often happens) people buy a super-advance ticket, often for half (or less) the fare due at peak times, and then try to use it on a peak train with the intention of avoiding the correct fare. In fact, I think that prosecution is an acceptable action in those circumstances, because there is a clearly proveable intention to avoid and why should the honest majority pay the exhorbitant fare due whilst others take the same service for less?


However, it must be recognised that is not always the case.


When there is no monetary gain, less than 20 minutes time saving and no-one is inconvenienced, I think that a little commonsense might prevail.


It seems from the fares quoted that your inspector was prepared to issue another reduced fare ticket rather than the standard open single, which seems a bit of an odd compromise.


By all means write to appeal, there is no appeal procedure for these situations, but you lose nothing by asking. The rules regarding such tickets have been challenged a good many times without success and there is no reason why you should not try again, but I don't hold out much hope I'm afraid because those conditions are clear and were clearly breached. Nevertheless, you may find someone who might give your letter a sympathetic hearing.


Good luck

Edited by Old-CodJA
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A few points on this one, it seems at first that the guard was prepared to issue an Off-Peak single on the spot or issue a UFN for the Anytime single, this is correct as UFN's are only meant to be issued as the "full open single".


I would say that other people could have been incovenienced by this, the OP had bookd Advance tickets which are quota controlled, therefore by booking these tickets another person who may have tried to book on the later service in advance but after the OP had booked may have had to buy a walk up fare as the OP couold have booked the last advance for that service (totally hypothetical but is a good point that is often overlooked)


And lastly it is very clear in the T's & Cs of Advance tickets that they are only for the booked train!

Views expressed in this forum by me are my own personal opinion and you take it on face value! I make any comments to the best of my knowledge but you take my advice at your own risk.

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