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RJBedg

Northern Rail - request stop, no guard, asked to buy ticket but told committed offence

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Hopefully someone can give me some advice.

 

This evening my daughter caught a train from Entwistle, which is a request stop, to Blackburn to meet a group of friends home from University for a meal.

 

The guard did not come along the train selling tickets but she did not see this as being unusual as it often happens

when she catches the train in the opposite direction to Manchester Victoria she thought nothing of it.

 

She alighted from the train at Blackburn and proceeded to the exit on the carpark / cinema side of the station as she was due to meet her friends at Pizza Hut which is near to the cinema.

 

As she approached the ticket machine she saw two "guards" standing just the other side of the machine

and assuming the set up was the same as that at Manchester Victoria she asked one of them if she could buy her ticket from him

or if she needed to purchase it from the machine a couple of yards away.

She was then informed that she had committed a criminal offence.

 

She was somewhat amazed by this as there are always guards at Victoria who sell her a return ticket to Entwistle.

 

She was asked for details of where she had caught the train from and was informed by the (smirking) inspector that he had never heard of Entwistle.

Somewhat flustered by this she explained that it was a small request stop and the guard then asked if there was a guard on the train.

 

She advised that she had not seen him, which is not unusual as explained above, and she was then told she should have sought him out.

She was also then advised that she should have bought a ticket from the machine

(the one she had just asked about when enquiring whether to buy a ticket from the inspector or the machine).

 

The inspector then proceeded to ask for ID and address details.

She showed him her passport and wrote down our address and post code.

This was checked by telephone and she was then informed that she did not live there

and was asked how long she had lived there and asked if her parents lived there.

 

She confirmed that we have lived at our address for over 2 years and that she indeed lived with her parents.

She was again informed that no-one with her surname lived at the address.

 

At this point she was extremely flustered, and on routing through her purse found a letter to her from her bank.

The postal address on this says "yyyyy" as that is the one taken automatically from the post office website

and the guard said to her she had written down the wrong address as she had said "xxxxx".

We do live in "xxxxx" (the sign for the village is only 50 metres from our house)

and we generally give this as our address as we do live in "xxxxx" and not "yyyyy".

This should not even have been an issue though as the correct post code was given.

 

Completely flustered by this stage she remembers being asked more questions about where she was going (or possibly why she was leaving by this exit)

and she explained she was meeting friends at Pizza Hut.

 

The inspector finally gave her the slip to sign with her address and station details which she signed.

She is uncertain if there was anything else on the form as she says she was just upset and wanted to meet her friends.

She remembers being told she would hear from Northern Rail within 30 days and it is very important that she responds when she receives the letter.

 

She is still extremely upset as she was following the procedure

she has followed many times when travelling to Manchester Victoria.

 

Can anyone please advise what happens next and how we can put her case. It is genuine, but I guess everyone says that.

 

Thanks

Edited by RJBedg

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Strictly speaking, she should have bought a ticket at the first opportunity.

Was there a "permit to travel" machine or ticket machine at the original (unmanned?) station?

 

If not, it was her responsibility to seek out the staff on the train to buy a ticket.

 

When she gets a letter from the Train Operating Company ( TOC) please post details.

There are 2 main ways they might proceed with : the first is more serious but harder to prove beyond reasonable doubt : that she travelled without intending to pay her fare.

Less serious (but still a criminal conviction) is the "strict liability" offence that she "failed to show, on demand, a ticket"

 

Again, post back with the details of the letter (with any identifying details removed) once received : you (rather : she) can try to get the TOC to consider an "administrative penalty" as an alternative to prosecution.

 

Whilst I don't doubt that she was unhappy with the manner of the barrier staff : there is no "pay later" scheme for travel, it was her responsibility to have a ticket in advance or the first opportunity available, and focusing on the manner of the staff might make the TOC less likely to consider alternatives to prosecution.

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Many thanks, the station is unmanned and there are no machines at all.

She did not seek out the guard as, on numerous occasions travelling in the opposite direction she has paid the guards by the exit at Victoria (I have also done this when the guard has not been through the train). She assumed that this was the case at Blackburn. Indeed her first question was to ask if she should pay the man who she thought was a guard or use the machine next to him.

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It is a common misconception regarding "the guard / train manager didn't come around" : so she has my sympathies, but the onus was on her to seek them out to pay, and just because "she got away with it before" won't preclude them from taking action.

 

Once she has the letter from the TOC she might want to say something along the lines if : "I now understand that it was my responsibility to buy a ticket at the first opportunity, even if it meant seeking out the staff on the train, and I accept that. I was falsely reassured by the previous times I was allowed to buy a ticket at my destination, and now know that I could have been held liable on those occasions : though I would like to stress I always bought tickets then : it has never been my intent to avoid paying a fare. Given the surprise this has been to me, I can categorically state I will always buy a ticket in advance / at the first opportunity if there are no facilities to buy one in advance"

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Many thanks for you advice BazzaS that wording pretty much sums up exactly how it is. Rest assured any of my family will always board the train at Entwistle at the end of the train and will ensure that they speak with the guard immediately. It does seem odd that the setup at Victoria does seem to be permanent as they have a lecturn there and it certainly gives the impression that the system is to pay there.

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This is just crazy. As far as i can see she did seek out someone to pay so in no way can be accused of trying to avoid payment. I think she should make that point very strongly. At Birmingham new st there is always a queue of people buying tickets after travel and before the barriers. I have lost count of the times when i have travelled and could have got away with not paying .

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This is just crazy. As far as i can see she did seek out someone to pay so in no way can be accused of trying to avoid payment. I think she should make that point very strongly. At Birmingham new st there is always a queue of people buying tickets after travel and before the barriers. I have lost count of the times when i have travelled and could have got away with not paying .

 

I'm not disagreeing, and they'd have trouble proving beyond reasonable doubt that she "intended to avoid paying her fare".

However, from the situation described she did "fail to show on demand a valid ticket".

So, there are 2 main areas : firstly, the way forward for the OP and their daughter - following the advice I've given & the advice they'll hopefully get when they post up the letter received.

 

Secondly, education for travellers that there is the risk to "I'll buy my ticket at the destination". The grounds on which you are absolutely safe to do this are only if there was no opportunity to buy a ticket before : one must buy a ticket at the first opportunity.

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Many thanks, the station is unmanned and there are no machines at all.

She did not seek out the guard as, on numerous occasions travelling in the opposite direction she has paid the guards by the exit at Victoria (I have also done this when the guard has not been through the train). She assumed that this was the case at Blackburn. Indeed her first question was to ask if she should pay the man who she thought was a guard or use the machine next to him.

 

Hello there.

 

I think your daughter may have been caught up in something one of our rail experts, Old-CodJA, says is happening a lot. Some lines have developed a culture of paying at the end of the journey and some of the rail companies have taken to doing checks like your daughter encountered, in an effort to change things.

 

Bazza is right, the rules do state that travellers should seek out someone to pay, but it's shame that companies don't try an education campaign before they start the spot checks.

 

As has been said, come back to us when the letter arrives, and the guys will help you decide what to say.

 

My best, HB

Edited by honeybee13
Typo.

Illegitimi non carborundum

 

 

 

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Spot-on HB and there is a lot of work being done with ATOC, Passenger Focus and the TOCs to address that situation, but it is ludicrous to suggest as Conniff has done that TOCs 'purposefully keep rules secret'

 

( I also think it incredibly rude to infer that those unfortunates who are are forced to attend the job centre are all lacking in commonsense. )

 

All stations in areas where penalty fares are charged MUST display the sign reminding travellers of their responsibilities and in most other areas (where Penalty Fares do not apply) there are clear signs that remind you to buy before you travel, usually on the timetable information or similar posters.

 

Agreed, there is not a huge sign at every station listing all of the 6 relevant Byelaws (numbers 17 - 22 inclusive ) in relation to ticketing and nor is their a sign stating word for word the detail of Byelaw 6 that governs acceptable behaviour on the railway. Nonetheless these are freely available on the internet, at libraries and the Conditions of Carriage is a freely available document at booking offices. All of the information and advice is available at the DirectGov website too.

 

Sadly, too many people have got into their head the idea that it is their right to get on a train without paying and that it is the responsibility of rail staff to seek them out and ask them to pay. That is not the case. As Bazza makes clear, it is the travellers responsibility to seek an opportunity to pay when pre-purchase facilities are not available. The Appeal Court ruling in the case of Corbyn (1978) that we frequently refer to made this abundantly clear.

 

Now I am a firm believer that full pre-purchase facilities SHOULD be available at EVERY station with access to passenger services, but unfortunately we have to accept that isn't practical these days. Fares are already astronomically high in too many areas and there isn't funding available to achieve that situation at all station.

 

The problem pre-dates privatisation by a long way and where rail service providers have had to make cuts, which has included closing booking offices etc. there are areas where a culture of 'only pay if asked' is prevalent.

 

I am fully aware of some TOCs who have put into place re-education programs, using warning posters and updated signage at stations up to a year before starting a stricter enforcement campaign. Unfortunately this has not had the desired effect in large areas and the custom and practice of travelling without paying has continued.

 

Regrettably, there are instances as outlined by the OP, but I am sure that, once a letter is received from the TOC, if a well constructed letter is sent in reply by your daughter (I assume she is over 18) explaining the issues and not trying to deflect responsibility by focussing on issues other than the fact that she appeared to be leaving the station, having not paid if staff had not been there, I expect that Northern will take any apology into consideration.

 

I suggest not trying to 'jump the gun' as it were, until Northern write to her your daughter will not have the reference allocated to her case and will not know exactly what they allege. Some people will advocate contacting the TOC and offering a three figure sum to avoid taking the matter further. I certainly would not do so at this stage.

Edited by Old-CodJA

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Many thanks Old-CodJA .Yes my daughter is 19 and fully accepts now what should have been done. She is extremely concerned the effects this could have on her future employment prospects and also on the year abroad which is part of her degree course. I will post again when she receives her letter.Thanks again to everyone who has posted our minds are certainly more at ease now we have read some of the replies.

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I don't think anyone thinks your daughter intended to avoid payment. She simply didn't understand the rules and got caught as a result.

 

I would very much hope that she is given the opportunity to avoid prosecution (and therefore possibly a criminal record) by being able to write a letter along the lines of Bazza's words in post #4. You can read of others who have had success with this approach, but it does also need a sizeable contribution to costs if it is to work.

 

If she shares your eloquence (and gets the opportunity) she has a good chance of acceptance.

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Good evening,

 

We are now over a month down the line (no pun intended) and still no letter has been received. My daughter is sure she was told she would hear within 30 days. Should we contact Northern Rail or are we still best to wait?

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Good evening,

 

We are now over a month down the line (no pun intended) and still no letter has been received. My daughter is sure she was told she would hear within 30 days. Should we contact Northern Rail or are we still best to wait?

 

Hello there.

 

If you don't have a case reference number, contacting Northern Rail may not be productive for you. Sometimes letters take a bit longer than 30 [working?] days, maybe you won't hear at all?

 

My best, HB


Illegitimi non carborundum

 

 

 

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Good evening,

 

We are now over a month down the line (no pun intended) and still no letter has been received. My daughter is sure she was told she would hear within 30 days. Should we contact Northern Rail or are we still best to wait?

 

Unfortunately these letters can take 6 weeks or more at busy times.

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I find it fascinating that a number of posters on here assert that the NRCOC says that you must seek out a guard if there si no means to make a payment at your initial point of departure or indeed that you must stop at an intermediate station, even if you delay your journey, to do so. The reason that I find this fascinating is that this is directly contrary to an ATOC document which I have seen posted on another forum I frequent. As such I must ask the posters making this assertion to justify it.

Edited by honeybee13
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I find it fascinating that a number of posters on here assert that the NRCOC says that you must seek out a guard if there si no means to make a payment at your initial point of departure or indeed that you must stop at an intermediate station, even if you delay your journey, to do so. The reason that I find this fascinating is that this is directly contrary to an ATOC document which I have seen posted on another forum I frequent. As such I must ask the posters making this assertion to justify it.

 

 

Lets look at this another way, answer me this question Wolfie:

 

Where does it say in NRCOC or any ATOC document that a traveller is absolved from the liability to declare their journey and pay their fare at the first opportunity?

 

( Incidentally, ATOC cannot instruct the TOCs, but can suggest guidance in respect of what they believe to be consistent best practice. ATOC has no legislative authority. )

 

I wish to travel from station A to station C and both stations have no ticketing facilities.

 

In order to make that journey I have to change at station B where there is a ticket office and a 'connecting' train every 10 - 15 minutes. Where do I have to pay my fare?

 

Let's assume I do not declare my journey on the first train, I do not go to the ticket office and pay at the intermediate station B and I do not declare my journey and pay the fare on the second train.

 

I then walk out of the station at C having not paid for my journey.

 

Have I committed an offence?

 

 

(Edit: I should add that this has been reported and tested before the Courts more than once and their answer has been consistently the same in my experience.)

Edited by Old-CodJA

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I'm not disagreeing, and they'd have trouble proving beyond reasonable doubt that she "intended to avoid paying her fare".

However, from the situation described she did "fail to show on demand a valid ticket".

So, there are 2 main areas : firstly, the way forward for the OP and their daughter - following the advice I've given & the advice they'll hopefully get when they post up the letter received.

 

Secondly, education for travellers that there is the risk to "I'll buy my ticket at the destination". The grounds on which you are absolutely safe to do this are only if there was no opportunity to buy a ticket before : one must buy a ticket at the first opportunity.

 

Now that's a reasonanble point of view.

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On a slightly different, and not completely relevant note, has anyone noticed NRE page for Entwistle station? Re: Ticket issuing facilities- note the green ticks. Mildly bizarre.

 

Entwistle_zps6d8a61ef.jpg

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Lets look at this another way, answer me this question Wolfie:

 

Where does it say in NRCOC or any ATOC document that a traveller is absolved from the liability to declare their journey and pay their fare at the first opportunity?

 

( Incidentally, ATOC cannot instruct the TOCs, but can suggest guidance in respect of what they believe to be consistent best practice. ATOC has no legislative authority. )

 

I wish to travel from station A to station C and both stations have no ticketing facilities.

 

In order to make that journey I have to change at station B where there is a ticket office and a 'connecting' train every 10 - 15 minutes. Where do I have to pay my fare?

 

Let's assume I do not declare my journey on the first train, I do not go to the ticket office and pay at the intermediate station B and I do not declare my journey and pay the fare on the second train.

 

I then walk out of the station at C having not paid for my journey.

 

Have I committed an offence?

 

 

(Edit: I should add that this has been reported and tested before the Courts more than once and their answer has been consistently the same in my experience.)

 

Do I agree passengers should pay their fares, absolutely. Do I believe that TOCs should make the facilities to do so available and follow the procedures available in NRCOC? Again absolutely."• Interchange. A passenger who changes onto a penalty fares train at a penalty fares station may normally be charged a penalty fare if ticket facilities were available at the interchange station and warning notices were displayed where they could be seen by anyone changing onto the penalty fares train. However, under condition 7 of the National Rail Conditions ofCarriage, the full normal range of tickets must be made available to any passenger who started their journey at a station where no ticket facilities were available. In these circumstances, a passenger should not be expected to buy a ticket at the interchange station if they do not have enough time to do so without missing their connection. If it is not possible to check whether or not ticket facilities were available at the station where the passenger started their journey (which may be a station run by a different train company), a penalty fare should not be charged."Refers to a slightly different (but actually harsher) situation but the intent, particularly of the third sentence is VERY clear.I have also seen numerous views from experienced rail staff on RailUK Forums who take a different stance to you. For example, from a poster called kwvr45 "There is no requirement to waste time at an interchange station buying tickets - the ruling, as I have always seen it, applies to where you started your journey, which in this case was Oakham which was unstaffed. The length of the connection time is, in this case, irrelevant".

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Lets look at this another way, answer me this question Wolfie:

 

Where does it say in NRCOC or any ATOC document that a traveller is absolved from the liability to declare their journey and pay their fare at the first opportunity?

 

( Incidentally, ATOC cannot instruct the TOCs, but can suggest guidance in respect of what they believe to be consistent best practice. ATOC has no legislative authority. )

 

I wish to travel from station A to station C and both stations have no ticketing facilities.

 

In order to make that journey I have to change at station B where there is a ticket office and a 'connecting' train every 10 - 15 minutes. Where do I have to pay my fare?

 

Let's assume I do not declare my journey on the first train, I do not go to the ticket office and pay at the intermediate station B and I do not declare my journey and pay the fare on the second train.

 

I then walk out of the station at C having not paid for my journey.

 

Have I committed an offence?

 

 

(Edit: I should add that this has been reported and tested before the Courts more than once and their answer has been consistently the same in my experience.)

 

Your example is of course pejorative. If you do not purchase at the intermediate station and either do not purchase a ticket at all or one covering the whole journey on the second train and then proceed to walk out of the final destination station then of course you have commited an offense and of course you deserve to be punished. If you purchase on the second train or at the destination station on the other hand a ticket which does indeed cover the whole journey then you have met your obligations.

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Your example is of course pejorative. If you do not purchase at the intermediate station and either do not purchase a ticket at all or one covering the whole journey on the second train and then proceed to walk out of the final destination station then of course you have commited an offense and of course you deserve to be punished. If you purchase on the second train or at the destination station on the other hand a ticket which does indeed cover the whole journey then you have met your obligations.

 

You have met your obligations once the ticket is purchased if you haven't yet been asked to show a ticket. What if you are asked to show a ticket before you have purchased it on the train? (using this example, on the train from B to C, asked to show a ticket before you have purchased the ticket covering the journey from A to C).

Edited by BazzaS

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Do I agree passengers should pay their fares, absolutely. Do I believe that TOCs should make the facilities to do so available and follow the procedures available in NRCOC? Again absolutely."• Interchange. A passenger who changes onto a penalty fares train at a penalty fares station may normally be charged a penalty fare if ticket facilities were available at the interchange station and warning notices were displayed where they could be seen by anyone changing onto the penalty fares train. However, under condition 7 of the National Rail Conditions ofCarriage, the full normal range of tickets must be made available to any passenger who started their journey at a station where no ticket facilities were available. In these circumstances, a passenger should not be expected to buy a ticket at the interchange station if they do not have enough time to do so without missing their connection. If it is not possible to check whether or not ticket facilities were available at the station where the passenger started their journey (which may be a station run by a different train company), a penalty fare should not be charged."Refers to a slightly different (but actually harsher) situation but the intent, particularly of the third sentence is VERY clear.I have also seen numerous views from experienced rail staff on RailUK Forums who take a different stance to you. For example, from a poster called kwvr45 "There is no requirement to waste time at an interchange station buying tickets - the ruling, as I have always seen it, applies to where you started your journey, which in this case was Oakham which was unstaffed. The length of the connection time is, in this case, irrelevant".

 

 

Your extract refers to penalty fares and is correct

 

Yes, I think we are all familiar with the opinions of a number of posters using RailUK Forums, some of whom are railstaff, but the majority of whom make clear they are not. These, just like opinions posted here are largely exactly that, personal opinion.

 

'Missing a connection' is an important point. The important distinction is 'connection' and this means booked connecting service, not any old train that happens to be going your way. No-one would think it right to fail to pay if the next train was 8 or 10 minutes away and a walk to the ticket office or machine was only a couple of minutes or so.

 

The important determination of whether a traveller has an obligation to make time and effort to pay their fare in such circumstances has recently been tested by the Courts and I prefer to go by their decision, rather than forum opinion.

 

A traveller who boarded at an unstaffed station, did not declare his journey to staff on train, changed at a fully staffed mainline station with all available facilities, boarded another train without having used those facilities and did not approach staff and declare the journey before being spoken to by an inspector and knowing that he was unlikely to be stopped at his destination. He was reported and subsequently charged with attempted fare evasion. He now has a conviction. The case was heard by a District Judge and after lengthy representation by the defendant concerning not using facilities at the intermediate station, Court was recessed whilst the defendant took further legal advice.

 

Following that good legal advice, the defendant had a better understanding of the view the Court was taking and changed his plea to guilty. (I do have all the detail on this case)

 

The Judge made clear to the Court that the light sentence imposed was wholly as a result of taking into consideration a lengthy good character testimony given as witness by a friend of the defendant and that the opinion of the Court was firmly that the offence was clearly made out.

 

My view, which exactly matches that of the Court in this case, therefore remains unaltered.

Edited by Old-CodJA

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Just a short note to say that we never heard any more on this. Hopefully a sensible view was taken and I am not tempting fate by assuming this.Thanks again to all who replied.

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Hello again.

 

Thank you for updating us, I expect the guys will be around later to see what you've written.

 

My best, HB


Illegitimi non carborundum

 

 

 

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