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westcountrybumkin

Southwest trains - letter from the prosecution department

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Thank you for any advice you can give.

 

Basically, I travelled without a ticket from Devon to Southampton as part of a temporary job (I could get this cost completely reimbursed). However, when I got to the station there were queues for the ticket booth (well no one was on it and there was a lengthy queue on the ticket machine). So I got on the train with the intent to buy the ticket from the guard (something I have done before but will never do again after this incident).

 

The issue comes from the fact that the trains were extremely busy (completely unable to get a seat on the first train) and I was unable to find a guard. When I got to the change I went to the help desk (unmanned at the time) and the ticket machines/booths were on the other side of barriers when my train arrived within a couple of minutes. So I got on the train and thought worse comes to worse I can explain my situation and pay at the station. Could not find the guard on the second train and I was starting to panic.

 

Now I get to Southampton central and go to a booth labelled buy tickets here or something like that and explain my situation. I get told she cannot deal and is calling for the manager. Well next thing I know I had an officer reading me a caution, taking my personal details, and questioning me (directly accuse me of fare avoidance, but he was surprisingly nice about it and I was cooperative and apologetic). He said he needs to put my details onto the system and I may get a letter.

 

 

I had no financial gain from not getting a ticket and could easily show this (a single back cost nearly the same price £31) as my job would have covered the expense of the return ticket (£33).

 

Well today I got the letter. I am tackling the evidence by just explaining what happened and avoiding mentioning that perhaps if they employed staff I might have been able to buy a ticket on the way. I may have to write two letters with one being a bitch about the services (then deleting it to get it out of my system) and the second being the professional apologetic letter. Now I have a copy of my recipe for the way back and I will be able to get a statement from my employer so I should avoid being accused of fare avoidance. I am expecting a fine which I will most likely just cough up the money for which is not something I really want to do when I am between jobs but I want to avoid any sort of criminal record.

 

Any advice to consider when writing the letter?

 

I will never just jump on a train and presume I will be able to buy on route again. I wish I had just hopped on a train to Southampton airport and got a bus into the city centre (no barriers and no potential £100 fine).

 

Sigh.

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Exactly what does the letter allege?

 

Remove personal details from the actual letter, but tell us exactly what the TOC say and we may be able to give suggestions that will help.

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It is a request for statement of incident I have a week to reply (dated the 7th Jan and sent first class as the letter states 2 week to reply by).

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From your original post it is clear that there is a prosecutable offence. Ticket issue facilitties were available at the station where you boarded the train, you chose to board the train without a valid ticket. That is a breach of Railway Byelaw 18.1, which is a strict liability matter.

 

You need to respond truthfully, apologise, sign & date your reply and ask the company if the matter can be disposed of without Court action.

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A long queue is not a defence for not buying a ticket PRIOR to boarding a train.

 

You are, by your own admission, guilty of breaching Railway Byelaw 18.

 

If convicted of this, you won't get much change out of £500, (maximum fine is £1000).

 

You MUST, at all times, regardless of circumstances, purchase a valid ticket for your entire journey before you start to travel. If you fail to do so, you commit a criminal offence.

 

If a station is unstaffed, but there is a self-service ticket machine, you must use the self service ticket machine.

If you are in a Penalty Fare area, and no ticket selling facilities exist, you must use the Permit to Travel machine, if one is installed.

If the station is staffed, you must purchase a ticket from the staff there.

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