Advice Please!

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Vicky23

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Hi folks,

So around 2 months ago I boarded a train without a ticket for the simple reason of I didn't know where I was getting off yet. I was meeting some friends who were travelling via car and I wasn't sure of which exact station they wanted me to go so my plan was to just purchase a ticket onboard once I found out.

Along comes the train inspector before I get my friend's confirmation so I purchased a temporary ticket to one of the next couple stops planning to buy the rest of the journey once I knew where I was going. I mean pretty much every station has barriers anyway so it's not like I could get very far without a ticket! Anyway, the inspector allows the transaction and doesn't tell me off for not buying a ticket before boarding the train.

My friends still hadn't got back to me (Tried ringing but combination of friend driving and me having bad signal - you know how it is on a train) and
the train just passed the station I bought the temporary ticket to...which I'm still sitting on. Inspector comes back, I explained the situation, he assumes I'm trying to evade the fare, takes down my details, I receive a letter threatening to prosecute me. Oh and I've missed the 21 days to appeal deadline because the letter was sent to a previous address..

In hindsight, I should've got my s*** together before boarding the train and I probably should've explained the situation to the inspector when I was buying the temporary ticket but hey, everyone makes mistakes. I've even been given a penalty fare before so believe me I know all about purchasing tickets before train journeys. Don't really fancy a criminal record for this minor slip up!

So I've got myself in a sticky situation here and would appreciate any advice you guys have as to what my next steps should be.

Thanks! xx
 
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najaB

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So I've got myself in a sticky situation here and would appreciate any advice you guys have as to what my next steps should be.
Let's get the horrible stuff out of the way: by paying your fare for a distance and then travelling beyond that distance you fall foul of the Regulation of Railways Act S 5.3, and you don't really have a defence against it.

So your objective is to avoid this getting to court.

What you do have going for you is that most train operating companies (TOCs) don't really *want* to take people to court - it's expensive for them and they'll get barely more than the fare that was due in the first place.

Of course this would be a lot easier to achieve if you had replied promptly - which leads to the question: why did the letter go to an old address? To the TOC that smacks of 'give them a false address and they'll never find me'. I'm not saying that is what you did, but that is how it appears. Hopefully you have a good explanation.

You need to write to the TOC concerned and make the case that they shouldn't proceed with a prosecution. The main points you need to get across are (in no particular order):
  • That you didn't realise you were breaching the law, but you now understand why your actions were wrong.
  • That you understand that had the ticket inspector not come back you could have underpaid - which would be unfair to passengers who had paid the correct fare.
  • That there is no need to take the issue to court because you know now how serious it is and will always buy a ticket for your full journey in future.
  • That you want to pay the outstanding fare and help defray the costs of dealing with your mistake.
There's no guarantee but others have managed to achieve reasonable settlements by taking this approach.
 
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Merseysider

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Vicky23 said:
Don't really fancy a criminal record for this minor slip up!
What is the wording of the letter? Does it mention Railway Byelaws (which won't leave you with a criminal record) or the Regulation of Railways Act/RoRA? I'm sure you can see why it looked suspicious; rail staff come across many people deliberately underpaying each day so I suspect it will be the latter.

If you want to avoid the matter going to court, you will need to reply very promptly, and such a response will need to be concise and convince them you were not attempting to avoid part of your fare. Leave out the waffle. Explain that due to your disorganisation, you weren't sure of where you'd need to get off but made a poor decision to buy partway with the intention of buying to your ultimate destination once you'd received confirmation of where you were travelling to. You now realise, with hindsight, this was not the correct course of action.

Happy to proofread.

A court appearance and conviction would set you back in the region of £200-£500 depending on your income and any 'previous'. If you form a letter expressing your regret and offering to cover the costs of investigating the matter, plus any fare due, you may be offered an opportunity to settle the matter out of court (no further proceedings, no criminal record) for an amount likely to be around £100.
 

Fare-Cop

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In addition to the offences already identified by najaB, I think the most difficult point to overcome here is the question of 'How did the TOC get to write to your old address if you didn't give it to the inspector when s/he asked you for your contact details?'

As described by the OP, this scenario does have all the hallmarks of deliberate fare evasion from a TOC perspective.

1. Failed to buy a ticket before boarding ( strict liability Byelaw offence (18.1) if travelling from a station where there were facilities to pay.)
2. Passenger declared they were travelling to a certain station and paid the fare for that distance, but failed to alight at the destination paid to.
3. Passenger travelled beyond the distance paid and did not declare the intention to travel beyond the distance paid before reaching that station, but continued without having paid the appropriate fare. (The Corbyn judgment would undoubtedly be referred to in any RoRA prosecution)
4. When asked for their name and address for report it, from the information given here, it appears likely that the traveller gave an address that was not their correct current address.

Some TOCs are more inclined to settle than others and if the penalty fare referred to by the OP was issued on the same company as this scenario, it may be that the TOC is less inclined to settle because it may be considered that previous 'reminders of the rules concerning buying before travelling' have not changed behaviour
 
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DaveNewcastle

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Any chance you could expand on this important point:
. . . . , I receive a letter threatening to prosecute me.
Does it really "threaten to prosecute" ? Is it a Summons to appear in Court for a Prosecution? Is it a letter asking you for any information you have about the event to assist in an investigation intot he incident?

It would help in giving you any assistance to know what you need assistance with!

Let's get the horrible stuff out of the way: by paying your fare for a distance and then travelling beyond that distance you fall foul of the Regulation of Railways Act S 5.3, and you don't really have a defence against it.
. . . or Section 103 of the Railway Clauses Consolidation Act
Railway Clauses Consolidation Act said:
If any Person knowingly and wilfully refuse or neglect, on arriving at the Point to which he has paid his Fare, to quit such Carriage, every such Person shall for every such Offence forfeit a Sum not exceeding level 1 on the standard scale.

Some TOCs are more inclined to settle than others . . . .
Indeed.
It would also help to know which Train Operating Company (TOC) is investigating the incident.

. . . . and I probably should've explained the situation to the inspector when I was buying the temporary ticket but hey, . . . .
Just for clarity, although in your story of the events you are considering it as a 'temporary ticket', it is in fact nothing of the sort. It is an actual ticket representing a contract which is valid for the actual journey between the two station names printed on it. No more and no less.
It is not possible to re-describe that contract as any sort of temporary arrangement, nor with any unilateral declaration of another purpose. If you had "explained the situation" at the time, the response would have been the same - that the ticket held is simply what it is, and a further journey must be agreed before starting to travel on it.
. . . . . this scenario does have all the hallmarks of deliberate fare evasion . . . . .
Whether or not it was deliberate, I agree that it does have all the evidence of deliberate evasion. And in any case, it is now a matter of fact that the correct fare was evaded.
 

Vicky23

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Of course this would be a lot easier to achieve if you had replied promptly - which leads to the question: why did the letter go to an old address? To the TOC that smacks of 'give them a false address and they'll never find me'. I'm not saying that is what you did, but that is how it appears. Hopefully you have a good explanation.

Hi Naja,

Thanks for your helpful advice. I currently live with my parents and they own a few properties, the letter was sent to one of the properties that I was staying at at the time. My dad often visits there so he just forwarded me the letter I assume someone there gave him, it's also the address of a restaurant so mail can easily get lost there. I'm not sure if this will hold up if I explain this in the letter?
 

Vicky23

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What is the wording of the letter? Does it mention Railway Byelaws (which won't leave you with a criminal record) or the Regulation of Railways Act/RoRA? I'm sure you can see why it looked suspicious; rail staff come across many people deliberately underpaying each day so I suspect it will be the latter.

If you want to avoid the matter going to court, you will need to reply very promptly, and such a response will need to be concise and convince them you were not attempting to avoid part of your fare. Leave out the waffle. Explain that due to your disorganisation, you weren't sure of where you'd need to get off but made a poor decision to buy partway with the intention of buying to your ultimate destination once you'd received confirmation of where you were travelling to. You now realise, with hindsight, this was not the correct course of action.

Happy to proofread.

Hi Jake,

Thanks for your helpful advice. The following is an extract of what the letter says word for word -

'The report of this incident indicates that sufficient evidence does exist to warrant a prosecution in accordance with current legislation. This file is presently with our prosecutions team who are considering whether to issue a Summons for inclusion in a forthcoming Magistrates Court list. These considerations may include whether any charge should allege an offence against Railway Byelaws (2005) or, The Regulation of Railways Act 1889.'

It also came with a separate page stating the National Railways Byelaws (2005) and Regulation of Railways Act 1889.

On the Transports Investigations website it says -

'If the charge is not denied and the person being reported accepts the statement made by the person making the report as an accurate record of the incident, the person being summonsed may enter a written ‘Guilty’ plea and ask the Court to dispose of the case in their absence.'

If I was to do that, would I get a criminal record? I completely understand why it looked suspicious and I am aware I was in the wrong to do what I did. Thanks for offering to proofread my letter, I really appreciate it but you are also very welcome to back out. If you're happy to go ahead, how do I contact you? Sorry I'm not a frequent forum user, not too sure how things work here!
 

Vicky23

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In addition to the offences already identified by najaB, I think the most difficult point to overcome here is the question of 'How did the TOC get to write to your old address if you didn't give it to the inspector when s/he asked you for your contact details?'

As described by the OP, this scenario does have all the hallmarks of deliberate fare evasion from a TOC perspective.

I gave the inspector the address that I was staying at at the time, the property belongs to my parents which is how I got the letter forwarded back to me, albeit very delayed!
 

Vicky23

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Any chance you could expand on this important point:Does it really "threaten to prosecute" ? Is it a Summons to appear in Court for a Prosecution? Is it a letter asking you for any information you have about the event to assist in an investigation into the incident?

It is a letter providing me the opportunity for any mitigation that I wish to be considered. However it also states that they have sufficient evidence which warrants a prosecution in accordance with current leglisation.

It would also help to know which Train Operating Company (TOC) is investigating the incident.


The letter is from Transport Investigations Limited but it doesn't say which rail company is investigating me and I can't remember. I think either East Midlands or CrossCountry.
 

Merseysider

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If you are signed in, click on Private Messages in the top-right. You'll find my reply to your PM there.
 
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