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Advice on First Great Western "Fine"


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Hi all,

 

I am writing to ask for advice on a letter I received recently regarding a train journey I made on 18th September 2013.

 

On the date in question I was late arriving at Ashton-Under-Lyne train station, as I approached the station I saw the train (the 7:49am to Huddersfield) pulling in to the platform so I ran for the train and just managed to jump through the doors before they closed.

 

I arrived at Stalybridge train station and exited the station by the side of the pub (as I have done on numerous occasions to have a cigarette on my way to catch my next train), however, as I approached the entrance to the station (where I usually sit on the wall and smoke) a lady approached me in a blue uniform, she asked me whether I had "just got off the train to Ashton" to which I replied yes. She then asked me whether I had a ticket, I replied, no I was going to buy one in a minute, as I have done on numerous occasions. She asked me to go inside the station with her and she would "get a ticket sorted out".

 

I went into the station with her, she then pulled out a badge and told me she was working in conjunction with the police, this was all she said on the matter. She then said she would have to place me under caution so that our conversation would have to be recorded, she then proceeded to ask me questions such as my name, address, did I have means to pay for the ticket, did I intend on not paying for a ticket. I gave my details, she radioed through and asked for conformation of an address, and told her I had the means to pay for a ticket, and in response to the questioning of my intent, I replied "obviously not, I think a bit of common-sense wouldn't have gone amiss", this was due to the fact that I was boarding a train again from Stalybridge to Manchester Picadilly, I had previously told her it was my intent to travel to Wilmslow.

 

She then got the station attendants to print off a single ticket between Ashton-Under-Lyne and Wilmslow with a voided fair.

 

I have since received a letter of "PRE-COURT ACTION" informing me that I have committed an offence in law, being contrary to Section 5(3)a of the Regulation of Railways Acts of 1889 and or Railway Bylaws and they are now "preparing the case for court", if convicted of the offence, I could be ordered to pay a fine of up to £1000 and/or be sentenced to 3 months imprisonment. The Magistrates' Court also has the power to order me to pay their costs of bringing the prosecution together with compensation for any outstanding fare.

 

The letter states "I have reviewed your case and I am, on this occasion, prepared to offer a settlement of this matter upon payment £72.10 which equates to the outstanding fare owed of £7.10, plus a contribution of £65.00 towards the costs incurred to date. This offer is made without prejudice."

 

From what I can see the section they believe to be applicable here is the following:

 

Section 5(3)a of the Regulation of the Railways Act 1889 states that If any person – (a) Travels or attempts to travel on a railway without having previously paid his fare, and with intent to avoid payment thereof;

 

However, I think that it was obvious that my intent was not to avoid payment as I was travelling onward, produced a catalog of previous rail tickets, which I have since calculated to amount to £686.40 between 01/10/2013 and 08/06/2013.

 

Needless to say I am disgusted that I have been treated this way by a company to which I provide regular custom.

 

What I want to know is:

 

- Do First Great Western even have the power to issue me a fine?

- Has she conducted herself properly in the practice she has shown?

- Is it in her jurisdiction to exit the train station and coach me inside to issue me a fine?

- Did she in fact have the right to place me under caution, or was this "scare tactics"?

- Is it correct that she has charged me from Ashton-Wilmslow without offering me opportunity to purchase a ticket from Stalybridge onwards

 

Thank you for any help.

 

Regards,

 

Andy

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Hi all,

 

I am writing to ask for advice on a letter I received recently regarding a train journey I made on 18th September 2013.

 

On the date in question I was late arriving at Ashton-Under-Lyne train station, as I approached the station I saw the train (the 7:49am to Huddersfield) pulling in to the platform so I ran for the train and just managed to jump through the doors before they closed.

 

I arrived at Stalybridge train station and exited the station by the side of the pub (as I have done on numerous occasions to have a cigarette on my way to catch my next train), however, as I approached the entrance to the station (where I usually sit on the wall and smoke) a lady approached me in a blue uniform, she asked me whether I had "just got off the train to Ashton" to which I replied yes. She then asked me whether I had a ticket, I replied, no I was going to buy one in a minute, as I have done on numerous occasions. She asked me to go inside the station with her and she would "get a ticket sorted out".

 

I went into the station with her, she then pulled out a badge and told me she was working in conjunction with the police, this was all she said on the matter. She then said she would have to place me under caution so that our conversation would have to be recorded, she then proceeded to ask me questions such as my name, address, did I have means to pay for the ticket, did I intend on not paying for a ticket. I gave my details, she radioed through and asked for conformation of an address, and told her I had the means to pay for a ticket, and in response to the questioning of my intent, I replied "obviously not, I think a bit of common-sense wouldn't have gone amiss", this was due to the fact that I was boarding a train again from Stalybridge to Manchester Picadilly, I had previously told her it was my intent to travel to Wilmslow.

 

She then got the station attendants to print off a single ticket between Ashton-Under-Lyne and Wilmslow with a voided fair.

 

I have since received a letter of "PRE-COURT ACTION" informing me that I have committed an offence in law, being contrary to Section 5(3)a of the Regulation of Railways Acts of 1889 and or Railway Bylaws and they are now "preparing the case for court", if convicted of the offence, I could be ordered to pay a fine of up to £1000 and/or be sentenced to 3 months imprisonment. The Magistrates' Court also has the power to order me to pay their costs of bringing the prosecution together with compensation for any outstanding fare.

 

The letter states "I have reviewed your case and I am, on this occasion, prepared to offer a settlement of this matter upon payment £72.10 which equates to the outstanding fare owed of £7.10, plus a contribution of £65.00 towards the costs incurred to date. This offer is made without prejudice."

 

From what I can see the section they believe to be applicable here is the following:

 

Section 5(3)a of the Regulation of the Railways Act 1889 states that If any person – (a) Travels or attempts to travel on a railway without having previously paid his fare, and with intent to avoid payment thereof;

 

However, I think that it was obvious that my intent was not to avoid payment as I was travelling onward, produced a catalog of previous rail tickets, which I have since calculated to amount to £686.40 between 01/10/2013 and 08/06/2013.

 

Needless to say I am disgusted that I have been treated this way by a company to which I provide regular custom.

 

What I want to know is:

 

- Do First Great Western even have the power to issue me a fine?

- Has she conducted herself properly in the practice she has shown?

- Is it in her jurisdiction to exit the train station and coach me inside to issue me a fine?

- Did she in fact have the right to place me under caution, or was this "scare tactics"?

- Is it correct that she has charged me from Ashton-Wilmslow without offering me opportunity to purchase a ticket from Stalybridge onwards

 

Thank you for any help.

 

Regards,

 

Andy

 

Hello Andy.

 

I hope the forum experts will be along later, but I'll try to answer some of your questions in the meantime.

 

I'm afraid you may have a problem. There is a popular belief that you can board a train and pay later, but train companies are taking a tougher line these days. If you don't allow time to buy a ticket, that can count against you and if you do board when ticketless, it's your responsibility to find a ticket inspector type person and buy one, sadly.

 

You may find that this lady did follow procedures, but the forum guys will tell you more about this. The problem as I see it is that unless you can prove that they're wrong and you're right, they can withdraw the offer of settlement and take you to court, which is likely to cost more than the £65 in costs that they have quoted.

 

Transport companies have laws and byelaws backing them up and these have stood the test of time.

 

I'm sorry that this sounds like gloomy news, please wait to see if the forum guys can spot something that I haven't.

 

My best, HB

Illegitimi non carborundum

 

 

 

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Open and shut Section 5 Regulation of Railways Act 1889 offence.

 

1) Failing to buy before boarding

2) Leaving the station without paying

 

You will receive a court summons shortly if you don't accept their VERY generous settlement. They are NOT fining you - they are giving you an opportunity to apologise, accept liability and cover their administrative costs dealing with you. Would you rather have a fine? If so, don't pay the train company, take your chances in court.

 

The (Railway) Inspector has the power to ARREST you if you failed to provide name and address details. The law does not limit the places where an arrest could take place - so it was in your best interest to cooperate.

 

It is your attitude which needs a rethink - before you end up before a Magistrate, along with a large fine and a criminal record.

 

I also think you're comment about paying £600 odd is stupid, over 8 months equates to around £80/month which is what a lot of people pay EACH WEEK!!

 

(By the way it was probably First Transpennine Express that stopped you).

 

In addition to the Regulation of Railways Act 1889, you also breached at least 2 of the Railway Byelaws, (as the letter states)

 

18. Ticketless travel in non-compulsory ticket areas

 

(1) In any area not designated as a compulsory ticket area, no person shall enter

any train for the purpose of travelling on the railway unless he has with him a

valid ticket entitling him to travel.

 

(2) A person shall hand over his ticket for inspection and verification of validity

when asked to do so by an authorised person.

 

(1) Offence and level of fines

 

Any person who breaches any of these Byelaws commits an offence and,

with the exception of Byelaw 17, may be liable for each such offence to a

penalty not exceeding level 3 on the standard scale.

Edited by firstclassx
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@honeybee

Thank you for the help.

 

@firstclassx

Firstly, thank you for the advice, I think my attitude is on par with the majority of rail users, train companies seem to operate based on the opinion that their customers don't have a choice, and that this makes it OK for them to provide a crappy service (overcrowded, late, overpriced). In addition to this, and probably for the same reason, they operate as a law unto themselves, enforcing laws when it is suitable and profitable to them. Considering your username, and seemingly bias opinion, I will wait for the advice of someone a little more "impartial".

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Hi all,

 

I am writing to ask for advice on a letter I received recently regarding a train journey I made on 18th September 2013.

 

On the date in question I was late arriving at Ashton-Under-Lyne train station, as I approached the station I saw the train (the 7:49am to Huddersfield) pulling in to the platform so I ran for the train and just managed to jump through the doors before they closed.

 

I arrived at Stalybridge train station and exited the station by the side of the pub (as I have done on numerous occasions to have a cigarette on my way to catch my next train), however, as I approached the entrance to the station (where I usually sit on the wall and smoke) a lady approached me in a blue uniform, she asked me whether I had "just got off the train to Ashton" to which I replied yes. She then asked me whether I had a ticket, I replied, no I was going to buy one in a minute, as I have done on numerous occasions. She asked me to go inside the station with her and she would "get a ticket sorted out".

 

I went into the station with her, she then pulled out a badge and told me she was working in conjunction with the police, this was all she said on the matter. She then said she would have to place me under caution so that our conversation would have to be recorded, she then proceeded to ask me questions such as my name, address, did I have means to pay for the ticket, did I intend on not paying for a ticket. I gave my details, she radioed through and asked for conformation of an address, and told her I had the means to pay for a ticket, and in response to the questioning of my intent, I replied "obviously not, I think a bit of common-sense wouldn't have gone amiss", this was due to the fact that I was boarding a train again from Stalybridge to Manchester Picadilly, I had previously told her it was my intent to travel to Wilmslow.

 

She then got the station attendants to print off a single ticket between Ashton-Under-Lyne and Wilmslow with a voided fair.

 

I have since received a letter of "PRE-COURT ACTION" informing me that I have committed an offence in law, being contrary to Section 5(3)a of the Regulation of Railways Acts of 1889 and or Railway Bylaws and they are now "preparing the case for court", if convicted of the offence, I could be ordered to pay a fine of up to £1000 and/or be sentenced to 3 months imprisonment. The Magistrates' Court also has the power to order me to pay their costs of bringing the prosecution together with compensation for any outstanding fare.

 

The letter states "I have reviewed your case and I am, on this occasion, prepared to offer a settlement of this matter upon payment £72.10 which equates to the outstanding fare owed of £7.10, plus a contribution of £65.00 towards the costs incurred to date. This offer is made without prejudice."

 

From what I can see the section they believe to be applicable here is the following:

 

Section 5(3)a of the Regulation of the Railways Act 1889 states that If any person – (a) Travels or attempts to travel on a railway without having previously paid his fare, and with intent to avoid payment thereof;

 

However, I think that it was obvious that my intent was not to avoid payment as I was travelling onward, produced a catalog of previous rail tickets, which I have since calculated to amount to £686.40 between 01/10/2013 and 08/06/2013.

 

Needless to say I am disgusted that I have been treated this way by a company to which I provide regular custom.

 

What I want to know is:

 

- Do First Great Western even have the power to issue me a fine?

- Has she conducted herself properly in the practice she has shown?

- Is it in her jurisdiction to exit the train station and coach me inside to issue me a fine?

- Did she in fact have the right to place me under caution, or was this "scare tactics"?

- Is it correct that she has charged me from Ashton-Wilmslow without offering me opportunity to purchase a ticket from Stalybridge onwards

 

Thank you for any help.

 

Regards,

 

Andy

 

It matters not that you "think that it was obvious that my intent was not to avoid payment as I was travelling onward, produced a catalog of previous rail tickets, which I have since calculated to amount to £686.40 between 01/10/2013 and 08/06/2013.".

What matters is if a court will think it was obvious that you didn't intend to avoid your fare.

 

You hadn't paid your fare, and left the station. Your previous tickets only show you previously paid those fares, it doesn't show you intended to pay that fare : what if you are asked why you didn't seek out staff on the train to pay, or plan better to arrive in time to buy your ticket, which was your responsibility.

 

Additionally ; there is the "strict liability" offence mentioned already by another respondent. This (bylaw 18) doesn't rely on intent : the court would have to look only at if you showed a valid ticket on demand (& you didn't?) and if you had any of the statutory defences (unlikely you had these if you haven't mentioned them so far)

 

If you don't take your chance for it not to go to court you risk a criminal record and a fine.

 

FGW's offer isn't a "fine" : only a court can fine you. It is an administrative penalty and one you should certainly consider.

 

Proper conduct? In her jurisdiction? Correct to caution you?.

Nothing you have said suggests she was acting improperly.

 

Put aside your indignation and look at it from the TOC's viewpoint. Hopefully you'll then take their offer of avoiding court.

 

Edited to add : firstclassx appears to work in the "rail industry". That doesn't mean they are a) wrong, or b) biased.

 

I don't work in the rail industry. Hopefully I'm not biased.

Hopefully I'm not wrong. Hopefully I'm stating circumstances as they are : they may not be as you wish them, but if it goes to court do you expect the bench to look at how you wish things are, or how the law stands (and has stood from 1889)

 

I'm all for better education for travellers that there is no obligation on the TOCs to offer a "travel first, pay later" scheme.

You may feel you have "the wishes of the travelling public" on your side, or "a right to indignation for being stopped".

 

Can I ask : how was the member of rail staff to distinguish you (as not intending to avoid your fare) from a deliberate fare evader who responds identically to how you have responded?

Edited by BazzaS
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Thank you for the advice BazzaS, sounds like my best option is to pay the penalty fee.

 

I think so. I'm agreeing with firstclassx though....

It's your call.

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Thank you for the advice BazzaS, sounds like my best option is to pay the penalty fee.

 

Hello again. I know it must rankle, but I think it might be the cheapest option and you don't want a criminal record.

 

And then make sure you have a ticket before you travel in future. It seems that rail companies are really tightening up on people not paying before they get on the train.

 

Sorry this isn't what you necessarily wanted to hear. :(

 

HB

Illegitimi non carborundum

 

 

 

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Thanks again guys, I think it's time to save up for car insurance.

 

Or just do what the majority of the passengers manage to do and buy your ticket before boarding a train! You can (dependant on area) buy online, over the phone, smartphone, self service machine, ticket office, print@home etc!

 

I would hazard a guess if you hadn't have left the station without paying, and immediately went to a booking office/staff when you got off, you probably would still have been given a warning that you committed an offence, but just made to pay the fare.

 

But, if you don't agree with Parliament's laws, or the conditions of travel, then certainly take the car!

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If it helps at all, I'm afraid I have to agree with Bazza and firstclassx

 

The National Railway Byelaw 18.1 (2005) offence is a strict liability matter.

 

Ashton-under-lyne station has a staffed ticket office from early morning to mid evening, you didn't use it and boarded a train without paying

 

Leaving the train and exiting the station without having paid gives grounds to allege the more serious offence and the TOC prosecutor might well choose to summons both matters.

 

When you get the letter from the TOC you might consider asking if they are prepared to allow an out of court resolution, but I wouldn't bank on it I'm afraid

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If it helps at all, I'm afraid I have to agree with Bazza and firstclassx

 

The National Railway Byelaw 18.1 (2005) offence is a strict liability matter.

 

Ashton-under-lyne station has a staffed ticket office from early morning to mid evening, you didn't use it and boarded a train without paying

 

Leaving the train and exiting the station without having paid gives grounds to allege the more serious offence and the TOC prosecutor might well choose to summons both matters.

 

When you get the letter from the TOC you might consider asking if they are prepared to allow an out of court resolution, but I wouldn't bank on it I'm afraid

 

They have already offered to settle the matter for £72 odd, which is why I'm surprised the OP appeared to want to push the issue further! Looking a gift horse in the mouth etc

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They have already offered to settle the matter for £72 odd, which is why I'm surprised the OP appeared to want to push the issue further! Looking a gift horse in the mouth etc

 

I agree,

 

The OP will not lose anything by asking, but I don't expect a second bite at the cherry to be offered if he has already turned it down once.

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