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i suspect after last night i am in the wrong here. however i didn't before then.



our local station is unmanned outside of morning rush hour.

it has in the past had a permit to travel machine,

which is a pain as you have to find someone to issue a ticket on the train

and network south east (edit southeastern) guards

often sit in with the driver to have a chat rather than issuing and checking tickets.


i was therefore pleased to see it removed with the promise of a new ticket issuing machine,

but then dismayed to see it replaced with a machine you can only pay by card with

as i would no more trust southeastern to keep my card details safe

than i would trust them to run all their trains on time!



i therefore had a chat with the guy who sells the tickets in the morning explaining that i didn't want to use my bank card in the machine and asking how i stood legally.



instead of telling me he didn't know he told me i should purchase a ticket at the earliest opportunity,

be that from someone checking tickets on the train or at the other end of the journey.


yesterday i entered the train intending to buy a ticket from the guard but he was nowhere to be seen.

it was a short journey of less than 15 minutes.



when i tried to go up the train i couldn't as the carriage was locked off from the rest of the train.

at the next stop i actually got off and saw a southeastern employee in a closed off area and asked him if i could buy a ticket.



he simply told me there was no one to issue a ticket in that section, whatever that meant,

but didn't tell me where or if i could buy one.

when i got to my destination i was told i had a penalty fare of £20 to pay.


i explained the full circumstances and there was even a girl standing next to me

who had seen me get off the train and try to buy a ticket.



i told him when it became obvious he was going to fine me

despite being fully aware that i had made every reasonable effort to buy a ticket

that i was meeting someone and i was in a rush and what did he want.



he had already asked me politely if he could have my address and i replied firmly 'no' and was not asked for it again.

he said the penalty fare was £20 on a few occasions



so eventually as he was taking his time fiddling about pressed a £20 note into his hand and cleared off without a receipt

and without giving him my address.



as you can imagine this has left a very bad feeling,

i clearly haven't tried to dodge the fare but haven't been able to buy a ticket for cash despite making a lot of effort to do so.


i would comment as follows,

can anyone confirm i am in the wrong and the inspector was in the right?

if so surely people issuing tickets should know the legislation

and be able to advise the public correctly on where they stand!



if you can be fined as soon as you get on the train it means you need to pay by card,

i can open up another bank account with no overdraft and a card which i can keep a low amount of cash in to buy tickets with.

this seems excessive to me but may be the only solution.

however if a teenager doesn't have a bank card what do they do?


it seems a ridiculous situation to me brought about by southeastern

installing a machine that doesn't take cash and removing the permit to travel machine that i used before.



i use the train for occasional non work trips and have decided not to use it today

nor until i find out where i stand and if need be sort out a new bank card for the purpose of buying tickets.

therefore network south east are already 'out of pocket' and the incident has already affected my use of their service.



it is all the more galling if as i suspect their employee at the local station unintentionally misled me

through lack of training and also because our line has always been historically overcharged

due to an anomaly in fares that they have never dealt with.



the whole episode is pretty unpleasant and unsavoury to be honest

and is brought about by the failure southeastern to offer a cash payment option at our local station.



i could go to the lengths of sorting out a new bank card, but a teenager couldn't.

we are already overcharged and have no waiting room and an unmanned station.

the situation is i personally believe unacceptable

Edited by andy johnsonn
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Network south east doesnt exist...


Is this Southeastern or Southern or Thameslink? If its either of the 3 its Govia...

What station is it?


We could do with some help from you.


Have we helped you ...?         Please Donate button to the Consumer Action Group



Receptaculum Ignis


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You're being paranoid about your bank details IMO. Just pay by card, you had a working card with money in the bank so you had the means to pay before getting on the train.


Did this all happen on the same day as your post reads like it was different days.

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maybe i am maybe i am not ganymede, plenty of hacking of large companies recently, my other concern which has happened before is getting the card stuck as it is pretty old and worn and due to be replaced this month. fine if there is someone about to retrieve it but not at a village station. if i wasn't given what appears to be duff info by the guy at the staion i would have either bought the ticket earlier in the day and hoped arrangements hadn't changed, set up a new account or not travelled by rail. if i was a teenager without a bank card i clearly would not have that option.


i asked the guy at the station how the legality of the new ticketing system stood about a week before. everything else happened yesterday afternoon within 20 minutes.


i have contacted southeastern and provided the full story apart from the name of the station and await a response. tbh i am prepared to write off the £20 but do want to know where i stand in the future before considering using the rail service.


i am not at all happy with what has happened, being treated like a criminal and fined when i was simply following the advice of their representative at the station, nor was i happy with the southeastern representative on the train when i asked him where i could buy a ticket and he wouldn't tell me.


part of the problem was the short journey which didn't give me a chance without his help to find out where i could get a ticket from.


however the inspector had all of that information plus a girl who actually saw me get off the train and ask the southeastern guy where i could get a ticket from but still chose to fine me.


so in other words he knew i had tried my best to buy a ticket but had been impeded and misled by southeastern but expected me to pay for their incompetence and laziness.


to me that is not catching fare dodgers, that is quite simply sharp practice at best.

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Setting up a new account is aa bit ridiculous IMO.


You were authorised by a member of staff to board the train and pay on it or at your destination. You tried to find a ticket inspector on board but none were available so that's not your fault either.


Had you waited and provided your details etc to the inspector at your destination you could have appealed the penalty fare but that's probably not an option now.

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agreed re the last bit ganymede but how much time would i have ended up burying to try and retreive £20 i should never have been fined in the first place. i suspect it may have taken about 8 hours in total once you take everything into account with an uncertain outcome, seems a pretty poor hourly return which is of course what they rely upon.


as it happens i will now stay locally for my leisure time which isnt so much fun for me but an option and they won't get any money from me until i know where i stand so end up out of pocket themselves.


a classic lose lose situation brought about by them.

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i suspect after last night i am in the wrong here. however i didn't before then.


You were certainly wrong at the point that you refused your name and address


Had you encountered a Revenue Protection Inspector and that inspector suspected that you were intending to avoid a fare you could have found him writing up a report potentially for more serious action. In serious cases an offence contrary to Section 5 of The Regulation of Railways Act (1889) might be alleged.


Having travelled without a ticket and having been asked to pay the appropriate fare, but having failed to do so, you are obliged to give your correct name & address in accordance with National Railway Byelaw 23 (2005) and also the Penalty Fares (Railways) Rules. Ultimately, if conviction of either of these charges (RoRA S5 or Byelaw 23) is reached, a hefty fine can be imposed by Magistrates


The Penalty Fares Appeals process allows for the argument that you say you had not avoided payment at the earliest opportunity to be investigated.


Unfortunately, being in a hurry isn't an acceptable reason for failing to comply with that legitimate request in relation to existing legislation and if you part with payment to any member of staff, always get a ticket, or penalty receipt. It is the only evidence that you have to confirm that you made that payment


Knowing which station you travelled from and what time of day isn't going to identify you by itself, but it would certainly help to ensure you get the most accurate replies

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thanks old cod,

several things occur to me

1) it seems the problem arose due to the guy at the local ticket office giving me completely incorrect information and



2) it means effectively you can't get on a train without a ticket if there is an option to pay by a bank card.



3) if you don't have a bank card be it a teenager or an adult it means you can't travel or have to buy a ticket well in advance of travel assuming you know you will be travelling.



4) if you rely on a cash payment as a kid and the guy in the ticket office is off sick you either don't go to school or risk a fine.



5) having the option to pay at a machine with cash would avoid these problems. does that about sum it up?


i was actually asked for my address without being given the ultimatum/choice of paying or giving my address.

at no point did he give me the legal position, nor explain that i could pay the penalty then appeal it.

he simply threatened to involve the police if i walked out without paying.



i asked him several times what i owed him once i felt it was address or payment and each time he said the penalty fare is £20.

he seemed to get distracted and muddled and was fiddling about with stuff in his pocket (maybe paperwork?) at which point i paid him the £20 as requested just to be shot of it.



for the avoidance of doubt he never said to me you either give make payment or give me your address.


i had no idea of the legal position as he never told me.

however i was fully aware that in the overall scheme of things i was being badly treated as i had tried to find out the position from the local ticket office and made every effort to pay during a journey of under 15 minutes.



i certainly had no intention of fare dodging and he must have been fully aware of that.

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thanks old cod, several things occur to me 1) it seems the problem arose due to the guy at the local ticket office giving me completely incorrect information and 2) it means effectively you can't get on a train without a ticket if there is an option to pay by a bank card. 3) if you don't have a bank card be it a teenager or an adult it means you can't travel or have to buy a ticket well in advance of travel assuming you know you will be travelling. 4) if you rely on a cash payment as a kid and the guy in the ticket office is off sick you either don't go to school or risk a fine. 5) having the option to pay at a machine with cash would avoid these problems. does that about sum it up?


Most of those scenarios are a bit unrealistic.


At the end of the day you were permitted to travel without a ticket by an authorised person, despite you having the means and ability to pay, but that should have been the end of it when you got off the train at your stop.


Something doesn't quite add up here for me.

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the only one not that likely is an adult without a bank card.



have resurrected an old bank account now and put a few quid in it so won't bother with the ticket office in future.



the ticket office was closed for a redec for a fair while and there has been the odd unscheduled closure

presumably due to the only guy working there being off sick.



. at the end of the day the whole episode has left a very nasty taste in the mouth though and i'll probably not use the rail as much in future.



so the way it was handled by the inspector has ultimately cost southeastern money which doesn't really make sense.

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Most of those scenarios are a bit unrealistic.


At the end of the day you were permitted to travel without a ticket by an authorised person, despite you having the means and ability to pay, but that should have been the end of it when you got off the train at your stop.


Something doesn't quite add up here for me.




I agree, there are missing facts it seems and the most important is to know what station the OP travelled from and at what time of day.



Whilst it might be argued whether or not the response alleged to have been given by rail staff did actually constitute permission to board without a ticket, two important points follow



IF given, the authority to board without a ticket, this does not constitute authority to travel without paying and the traveller is required to pay the appropriate fare at the first opportunity. The company should be able to confirm whether or not an opportunity had been available before the OP met the inspector and the OP should have provided name & address details if asked to do so.



IF asked for a name and address for issue of a Penalty Fare Notice, it does not matter whether it is being fully paid at the time of issue or not. The rules specifically allow for that information to be recorded.

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travel time was 3pm to 4pm. i've already said why i wasn't naming the station.


i presume legislation from 1889 would only relate to payment by cash rather than bank card.


fact i sought information on paying by cash from southeastern's representative at my local station and followed it.


it seems he gave me incorrect information which then led to this ridiculous state of affairs.


i'll post the reply from southeatern when i get it.................. if i get it.


thanks for your replies,



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travel time was 3pm to 4pm. i've already said why i wasn't naming the station.



Unfortunately that means that entirely accurate responses that truly might help you are not possible because all stations do not have the same staffing/infrastructure levels



i presume legislation from 1889 would only relate to payment by cash rather than bank card.



Not entirely, it is the precedents set by various cases brought under that Act and appeals heard and judgments recorded throughout more than a century since that have tested the legislation and set guidelines for Courts that will be relevant. The Act only refers to 'pay, or paid his fare', it does not specify any method of payment

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  • 3 weeks later...

i would post the responses from southeastern,

however in their e-mails they helpfully state that you are not permitted to reproduce them,

somewhat more bizarrely they also state their empoyee replies do not necessarily represent their views.

seems a bit pointless employing them or even replying to complaints really then

but does give you an insight into their customer service.


there is however nothing to stop me posting my replies to them of course nor to stop them coming on here and replying.


i had one good well reasoned response and one where the person replying seemed to understand so little of what was e-mailed to them

and avoided almost every question put to them to the extent you wondered whether they had just had a rather good liquid lunch!

goes to show with one reply from their customer service you could get an extremely different view of it.


they have dodged all questions of note but accepted they know some of their ticket inspectors sit in with the drivers and don't do the job they are paid for.

you won't be surprised to hear that the new ticket machine is already failing to accept bank cards

and given in their wisdom they installed a machine that wouldn't take cash



you are again as a customer placed in the position of being unable to purchase a ticket and having a confrontation with a revenue protection officer.

i am unsure of the legality of southeastern's position in failing to provide a means of purchasing a ticket or permit to travel.



here is my response to the sensible first response.


Actions clear.gif



andy johnson





To: Customer Services


hi david,


thanks for your reply. it was a lot more helpful and understanding than i had expected.

it would encourage me to go back to using british rail as before.


as i said i basically thrust the £20 into the inspectors hand and left.

i had already outlined the full details as provided to you.

i do fully understand the implications of loss of revenue to southeastern

and have once or twice in the past been unable to pay the full fare

due to guards locking themselves in with the driver

and a short journey to another unmanned station.

to be honest i usually travel when the ticket office is open so it isn't a problem.


i am not interested in trying to claim the penalty fare back

partly because it is more trouble than it is worth

and partly because i probably owe you getting on for that amount

when i have been unable to pay due to the guards not doing their job properly on short journeys.


my concern was really twofold.

one being given wrong advice by the person who mans the ticket office.

he is a decent helpful guy so i don't think there is any chance he was trying to mislead me

he simply took a guess he shouldn't have done.

he clearly hadn't been told/trained on the implications of the new ticketing system.


therefore i will tell you the station i was travelling from, which was harrietsham.

however i very much doubt he is the only person selling tickets for southeastern who is unaware of this.

it seems unfair on both him and others doing his job and passengers that they are not adequately informed.


occasionally the outward portion of my journey is less than the return for various reasons,

so i don't end up at the same place,

e.g. i may go from harrietsham to the coast,

then meet someone afterwards in maidstone.

how do i buy a ticket to cover this?

i would much rather pay cash

but have now got an old bank account going for dealing with southeastern

as i don't want to risk the card getting stuck at an unmanned station

(have had a card stuck before)

nor do i want my main bank details stored in any way by british rail.

it does concern me though that a teenager with no bank card could end up fined

and going through the ordeal of being treated like a criminal.

i can see no reason why southeastern could not have installed a machine that takes cash as they do at nearby bearsted.


i have been concerned by a few things as an aside recently.

whilst i travel from a station that is unmanned with no waiting room

i find that i am on a line that has been historically overcharged.

if that is true why is it not changed?

i had another unpleasant incident recently when traveling to sandwich.

i checked the online up-to-date train time to ensure my train was on time as i only had 10 minutes to make the connection

and could have caught one a bit earlier if need be.

it was shown as on time but i missed the connection by 3 minutes leaving me with almost an hour to wait for the next one.

as the guard was around i asked him what had happened and he told me the train had been that late all the way down from london!


i fully understand your problem with fare dodging

but would respectfully suggest that a climate of better customer service may relieve some of the problem

and that enabling everyone an option to pay by cash in some shape or form

should be something that british rail should legally be forced to do

and in any case should do so to avoid the potential problems that i raised.


whilst i have no details of the inspector concerned

i would again reiterate that it must have been completely obvious to him

that i was not attempting to fare dodge.

there was even a girl present who had seen me actually get off the train to speak with a rail employee to try and buy a ticket.

his reply was anything but helpful.

the journey lasted as many minutes as you have had days to reply to me!

he knew i was in a locked off compartment and had tried to buy a ticket

and had been misled to believe that i was entitled to pay cash.

i do believe he failed to listen/wasn't interested in listening

and was either under instructions to ignore comments from customers

or simply had no interest.

i gather from the website that i posted on that he failed to advice me adequately of my legal position

and should have informed me of my position when i said i wasn't prepared to give my address to him.

he seemed to deliberately be trying to drag things out when he knew i was in a hurry to meet someone.

the way he dealt with things certainly increased the risk of a physical confrontation.

i suspect he was adequately trained but simply couldn't be bothered to follow proceedings properly

as he was too fed up with and jaded by fare dodgers, something i can understand even if i disagree with it.


one final question for complete clarification.

can you confirm that if you simply board a train without either a ticket or permit to travel ticket

even if you cannot pay by cash that you are already in a position where you could be subject to a penalty fare.

i would appreciate clarification so i can write to the local parish magazine to try

and avoid anyone else getting caught out in this embarrassing and unpleasant manner.


kind regards,




the second reply was from a different individual it ignored virtually every question posed and tbh read like complete nonsense.


my response to that



RE: Information



Actions clear.gif



andy johnson





To: Customer Services

dear matthew,


i cannot say i am happy with your response which i find both disappointing and incomplete.


you won't be surprised to hear that when i last travelled from harrietsham,

on tuesday the ticket machine was already malfunctioning and was out of order for bank card transactions.

this meant i had to rely on an inspector doing his job properly (which on this occasion he was)

and risk another fine through no fault of my own.

i will now be contacting my local parish magazine and making them aware of the situation and taking the matter externally.


i presume an RPO would again have fined me for this as i couldn't prove the machine was out of order?

this is assuming i was unlucky enough to be on one of your trains with a malfunctioning ticket inspector!

i have no idea if the RPO who took the £20 at maidstone pocketed the money or declared it to southeastern.


you have not explained why you have installed a bank card only machine

whereas bearsted has a cash option.

you have not explained what a teenager without a bank card should do.

you have not addressed the issue properly of say the inability to issue a return ticket from another station.

e,g, i may travel from harrietsham to sandwich, then back from sandwich to maidstone.

thus i want a return ticket from maidstone to sandwich.


i spoke with some RPO's recently at bearsted station and it was obvious they were unhappy with the way they were being used.

whilst i support you in trying to obtain the correct fare from all passengers

i do not support your attempt to force people to pay by bank card, including minors.

it is clearly morally wrong not to provide adequate and full facilities to purchase tickets

and then take a hard line in respect of issuing penalty fares.

you already provide a worse service at our station than most with less trains,

no waiting roomand no loo facilities on a line that i gather has been traditionally overcharged due to an 'anomoly'.


it is also clear you are aware that many of your employees are not doing there job properly as inspectors

but are not sorting this out and instead penalising passengers for your own internal failings.


you have not addressed the lack of training given to your employees issuing tickets.


to be honest you seem to have failed to read my e-mail properly getting

the wrong end of the stick on occasion and failing to answer some questions.


you completely misunderstood my main concern regarding using a bank card in a rural location,

namely that my card could be caught in the machine,

something i have had happen before, with no one present on site to sort things out.


in short you are not providing a fair service to your clients.

you are allowing ticket inspectors to not do their job,

you are not training your employees properly

, you are providing inadequate facilities for purchasing tickets

and taking a hard line impacting on people who are trying to purchase tickets rather than just fare dodgers.


i have been using rail services for forty years and never had problems before.


i will now take the matter up externally

having given southeastern considerably more days than i had minutes to buy a ticket on that day

and since then the machine has already malfunctioned for bank card when it could have taken cash.


i am in short not surprised by your response but pretty disgusted.





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British rail?

please don't hit Quote...just type we know what we said earlier..

DCA's view debtors as suckers, marks and mugs

NO DCA has ANY legal powers whatsoever on ANY debt no matter what it's Type

and they

are NOT and can NEVER  be BAILIFFS. even if a debt has been to court..

If everyone stopped blindly paying DCA's Tomorrow, their industry would collapse overnight... 

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yes i drifted back to the past there, although i generally put southeastern.


is that the main issue for both of you here?


can you both confirm that you have never at any time worked for the railways or anyone connected with them in any way and do you have anything helpful or constructive to add to what has been posted?


many thanks,



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