At a loss with Northern Rail...

Discussion in 'Disputes & Prosecutions' started by Nextgenratpack, 11 Aug 2015.

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  1. Nextgenratpack

    Nextgenratpack Member

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    Hi,

    I'm looking for advice because I'm currently torn on whether or not to proceed to trial or to just accept the guilty charge, pay the early court costs and get a criminal record even though I know didn't commit the offence.

    I will start from the beginning.

    One evening I travelled from Burley Park station through to Bingley. At the start of the journey I had a ticket to get from Burley Park to Leeds, but at Burley Park station there was no working ticket facilities available.

    On arrival at Bingley Station, I exited the train and approached a revenue officer on the platform to buy the ticket for the remainder of my journey so I could leave the station. At this moment, he questioned why I didn't have a ticket and after an explanation he took down my details and said they would be in contact via letter.

    When the letter came through the details of the journey were wrong, the letter stated I had travelled from Shipley to Bingley. I responded to the letter via post stating that the journey information was wrong, the next communication from Northern Rail was a fixed penalty notice. On this coming through I contacted Northern Rail via the telephone and explained that the details of the journey are wrong. I also let them know at this point that I was moving house and they told me to put everything in writing and they would go from there.

    Fast forward 6 months where all correspondence had been sent to my old address and the trial had happened in the magistrates court without my knowledge.

    Luckily, I managed to get a Statue of Declaration and the original trial is now void and the new one has been scheduled for a couple of months time.

    However, my questions are surrounding the Northern Rail evidence submitted -two witness statements.

    1st - Revenue officer on the platform

    - journey details were wrong (I have witness statements confirming my whereabouts, I have my employer confirming my whereabouts and I have documentation confirming I was working in the Burley Park area throughout the week in question)

    - he said he approached me outside the station after I had already exited, but I approached him on the platform and asked to buy a ticket so I could get out past the guards stationed on the exit (is this a common statement used because for the life of me I have no idea how they expected me to exit the station with officers present on each one)

    2nd - Internal staff member who answered the phone

    - in the witness statement she stated that I had acknowledged the fine (is this correct even though my call was regarding the journey information being incorrect and to inform them of my change of address?)

    So, this is the evidence submitted against me.

    In terms of further evidence and what I can ask Northern Rail to disclose, the station they stated I travelled from has CCTV and that would prove my version of events as it would show me not getting on the train at Shipley.

    Secondly, are calls recorded and are notes logged from the call and if so can I request them to be disclosed as evidence because they would also prove my version of events.

    Thirdly, I no longer have the actual ticket from Burley Park to Leeds, but I have the proof of purchase is that enough?

    I'm wondering what more Northern Rail need before they consider my version of events because at the moment I am at a total loss because all they've submitted it two witness statements against what I've submitted.

    All help will be appreciated, the clock it ticking for me.

    Cheers,
    NG
     
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  3. DaleCooper

    DaleCooper Established Member

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    1. Why didn't you get a ticket at Leeds?

    2. As you were expecting correspondence fron NR why didn't you check at your old address?

    3. Knowing you were facing some action from NR why didn't you keep the ticket?
     
  4. Nextgenratpack

    Nextgenratpack Member

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    Thanks for getting back to me Dale.

    Short answers to your question:

    1. I'd started my journey with a valid ticket and normally when the ticket officer comes round and you show them the ticket from the first leg they let you buy a ticket for the remainder. So, once the journey had started I wasn't too concerned at which point I purchased the 2nd half of the ticket as I knew I would need it to be able to exit the station

    2. I did, but the only communication that came was 4 months after the last communication and it was a summons - it was only a month and a half later when the new owner informed me of post (however, this is a moot point because I have had the Statue of Declaration and the original trial has been made void, so we are back at the start)

    3. The ticket was a monthly pass with which I provided photo id and obtained a customer reference number, so the details are stored on the Northern Rail/Metro computers, so I didn't think I'd need to keep it as they will have proof of purchase on file

    Hope that helps...
     
  5. Nextgenratpack

    Nextgenratpack Member

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    Just to confirm on my plight. If I am wrong then I will pay, that is not the issue for me.

    It's just frustrating to know that I didn't make that journey and it appears there's nothing you can do about it.
     
  6. ian959

    ian959 Member

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    Is there any reason why you did not purchase the ticket at Leeds, which would have been your first opportunity to buy?

    I am sure that someone more knowledgable than myself will be along to confirm, but minor details of the journey and where you were caught being wrong would not affect the outcome of things. Presumably Northern are going the bye-law route on prosecution so the only relevant matter is that you could not produce a valid ticket when asked to do so. Strict liability and all that.
     
    Last edited: 11 Aug 2015
  7. Nextgenratpack

    Nextgenratpack Member

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    Hi Ian,

    There was no real reason why I didn't buy the ticket at Leeds other than I had already started my journey, I was the other side of the barriers and I had a valid ticket at that stage of that journey. It didn't even occur to me that it would then matter at what stage I paid the difference as long as I paid it before I left the station at my destination, as that's how it has worked for me historically.

    What's really confusing for me is that I'm going to trial for a journey of Shipley to Bingley based on the witness statement of the revenue officer and nothing more, but I have hard evidence and counter witness statements stating my whereabouts (which isn't Shipley) and also myself who knows that's not the information I provided.

    What I don't understand is why when I have the evidence that the journey didn't start in Shipley am I still being taken to trial for that very offence. Can that be right?
    --- old post above --- --- new post below ---
    Ian,

    I forgot to reply to this part of your message. Completely agree with you on this point, but Burley Park has no facilities to buy tickets (office or machine) hence why I had a monthly pass at the time (this may have changed now, but I checked the National rail website and nothing has been updated to say otherwise).

    If it really doesn't matter about the witness statement being wrong and that's all they're going with, then that doesn't seem fair at all because then they can just put anything in there.

    On this, if I just plead guilty and avoid all the hassle of trial, (even though it would be pretty damn good to question the revenue officer over his statement) will the offence be a recordable i.e. show up as a criminal record?

    That's the thing that annoys me the most about the situation, the fact that they can give you a criminal record on the word of a revenue officer.

    Its this point alone that is making me want to go to trial, because money you can replace, but its a lot harder when it comes to reputation.
     
  8. DaleCooper

    DaleCooper Established Member

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    I suspect you're being charged with not being able to produce a valid ticket (which you do not dispute) in which case I doubt the details are going to make any difference. It would be helpful if you could tell us exactly what offence you are charged with.
     
  9. najaB

    najaB Veteran Member

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    That is correct. To the OP: if you don't dispute that you were unable to produce a valid ticket on request, then it doesn't really matter where the journey was from/to. The TOC can easily correct those details on the day if you let the case get back into a court.
     
  10. ainsworth74

    ainsworth74 Forum Staff Staff Member Global Moderator

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    Actually it might not be quite as open and shut as 'was not able to show a valid ticket on demand'. To commit that offence there has to have been the opportunity to purchase the appropriate ticket for the journey being undertaken. Burley Park does not have a booking office and, I believe, it's TVM is not able to sell tickets with an origin from a different station. So there was no opportunity to buy at Burley Park.

    What is relevant is whether or not there was opportunity at Leeds and, as far as I'm aware, this is a very murky area. There is an argument that a passenger should not have to miss a train in order to purchase a ticket (so at a big/busy station like Leeds if you only had 10 minutes it might be reasonable to not buy there but if you had 40 then it obviously would be). The other argument is that the passenger should delay themselves, if necessary, when changing trains where there is an opportunity to buy.

    Which argument is correct has never, as far as I'm aware, been resolved and TOCs seem to take differing viewpoints as to which is correct.

    It is interesting that Northern seem to be persisting with the belief that the OP boarded at Shipley (which is on a competently different line to Burley Park and both end at Leeds) as that does have a ticket office which could have sold the OP the necessary ticket. So if they had actually travelled from there then they would most certainly be liable for prosecution.
     
  11. najaB

    najaB Veteran Member

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    I'm firmly in the 'you don't have to delay your journey' camp so their case depends on if the OP had enough time at Leeds to buy a ticket (or had an opportunity to buy it on the train to Leeds). That is a more important detail than the stations travelled to/from.
     
  12. crehld

    crehld Established Member Associate Staff Senior Fares Advisor

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    Indeed.

    For the record there is an excess fares booth in Leeds. Given the OP started at Burley park they probably would have arrived onto one of the platforms close to this (basically 1-5). However, this is not always open, and when it is one can be expected to queue for 15 mins plus (a result of Northern's failure to provide adequate ticket issuing facilities in West Yorks).

    This I find worrying. I'm assuming the OP informed the RPI at Bingley they started at Burley Park which necessitates a change at Leeds (there is no reason not to believe the OP here), so why are Northern suggesting the journey stated at Shipley? This is either the staff at Bingley not paying attention and making adequate notes in their book, or it is a mistake by the people in the prosecutions department. Based on recent threads here and personal experience either is possible, but it yet again highlights issues with Northern's implementation of revenue protection.
    --- old post above --- --- new post below ---
    If breaking a journey at Leeds I'd recommend official interchange time x2 (to account for getting to the ticket office and back) plus an additional 15 mins minimum to queue and purchase the ticket.
     
    Last edited: 11 Aug 2015
  13. Rich McLean

    Rich McLean Established Member

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    Firstly, when commencing the Journey at Burley Park, you should have purchased a through ticket to Bingley.

    Secondly, if you wanted to split your tickets, you should have done this online and collected your tickets in advance or from a ATM at the origin (if available). You can also buy combinations from a ticket office (if the station being boarded at has one)

    Thirdly, if you only had one portion of the ticket which was only valid to Leeds, if there was no opportunity to pay on board before Leeds, you would be required to buy a new ticket at Leeds in order to continue your Journey, even if this means missing your train and having to get the next one.

    The only time you could have continued your Journey at Leeds without purchasing a ticket there, is if the origin station you boarded at had no ticket facilities and there was no opportunity to pay on board on the first train, and buying a ticket at Leeds would result in you missing the 2nd train.

    So in short from what you have put, I would try and settle out of court, or if that is not possible, make a Guilty plea
     
    Last edited: 11 Aug 2015
  14. DaleCooper

    DaleCooper Established Member

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    According to NRE there are no ticket purchasing facilities at Burley Park
     
  15. ainsworth74

    ainsworth74 Forum Staff Staff Member Global Moderator

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    Where is that documented? I assume from the forthrightness that you put that across that there is some documentary evidence available to back it up?

    There is a TVM NRE is out of date.
     
  16. DaveNewcastle

    DaveNewcastle Established Member Fares Advisor

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    If, and it's an important 'if', the claim put to the Court is proved on the facts of failing to produce a valid ticket when requested, and/or having demonstrated an 'intent' to avoid payment by failing to buy, then those facts will be unlikely to turn on the correct name of the origin station.

    Good. You can carry on with knowledge that the proceedings are taking place.

    As above, these details, although arguably wrong, are not crucial to the offence, if an offence has indeed been committed.

    I expect that this is no longer an option, and will not have been considered helpful in view of the documentary evidence collected at the time.

    No. It does not prove 'beyond reasonable doubt' that you had not failed to produce a valid ticket when requested, and/or having demonstrated an 'intent' to avoid payment by failing to buy.

    It doesn't seem to me that Northern Rail considers that there is any significance to be attached to your "version of events", which is why they have decided to proceed to prosecution.
    Ainsworth74 has identified the crucial fact on which a prosecution would turn.
     
  17. Fare-Cop

    Fare-Cop Member

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    This idea that a traveller is not required to 'delay' in order to purchase a travel ticket at an intermediate station is very much subject to interpretation and is only really relevant where there are no facilities at the originating station and no-one on board a train to pay.

    Whilst I am not aware of an Appeal in relation to this particular aspect, I am aware of a considerable number of Magistrates Courts convictions for 'intent to avoid a fare' contrary to S.5(3)(a) RoRA (1889) based on the Corbyn ruling (1978) and where travellers:

    i) had not paid their correct fare before boarding where a ticket office or TVM existed
    and/or
    ii) had not declared their journey and had not paid their correct fare whilst on train
    and
    iii) had not obtained a ticket and had not paid their correct fare at the changing station
    or
    iv) before they were asked to produce a ticket at the end of, or during their journey, but failed to do so

    Magistrates have been asked to consider that:

    a) the traveller knew that they did not hold a valid ticket for their intended journey, but could have paid before travelling
    and
    b) the traveller has an obligation to pay at the first available opportunity
    and
    c) by their actions the traveller demonstrated an intention to pay the fare only if asked to do so, or at some later time

    In my experience, Magistrates have almost always accepted that it is perfectly reasonable for the company to expect travellers to comply and have found the traveller guilty as charged.

    The 'back-up' position in these cases is that the traveller may also be charged with the strict liability offence of failing to comply with Byelaw 18.
     
    Last edited: 11 Aug 2015
  18. sheff1

    sheff1 Established Member

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    Where is it documented that a passenger travelling from A to C via B, and already holding a ticket from A to B, must buy a A to C ticket rather than the cheaper* B to C ticket ?

    * Admitedly only 10p cheaper in this case, but you seem to be stating a general requirement -if the OP had been travelling from Weeton on the same train, already holding a ticket from there to Leeds, the difference would be over £5.
     
    Last edited: 12 Aug 2015
  19. DaveNewcastle

    DaveNewcastle Established Member Fares Advisor

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    I went to some length to answer a similar question a few months ago.

    Here were my findings:
    Split Ticketing Notice of Intention to Prosecute Post #93 where I referred to London and North Western Railway Co v Hinchcliffe [1903] 2 KB 42 in which Hinchcliffe noticed that 2 tickets for his journey from Huddersfield to Manchester would be cheaper than one. Though he had only bought the first ticket, as far as Stalybridge . . .

    to which furlong noted:
    and I expanded the analysis Split Ticketing Notice of Intention to Prosecute Post #113

    The full thread is here with comments by others.

    There are differences in Nextgenratpack's report of events
     
  20. Nextgenratpack

    Nextgenratpack Member

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    Hi all,

    Thanks for all the responses, definitely a lot of food for thought on what my next move will be.

    For me, there's so many facts stated in the two witness statements that are incorrect that I feel that I should take it to trial. The prosecution's evidence against mine doesn't stack up and when you have witness statements that contain nothing more than....

    'I checked the database and confirmed that a payment hadn't been received."

    ...then seriously???

    The entire reason I'm going to trial is because I refuse to pay a fine over a journey I didn't make and I have told them this verbally and in writing.

    I also have proof that there was no facility to buy a ticket at the starting station, so the only thing happening now is it's my word against the revenue officer on whether I approached him to purchase a ticket or he approached me after I had left the station.

    Anyone who knows Bingley station will tell you that you can't exit the station without showing your tickets to the revenue officers stationed on each exit. So, I either managed to go past a set of guards without a ticket or I did indeed actually approach him inside the station to buy my ticket.

    Bearing in mind that I have the proof that I was never in Shipley, his witness statement really isn't off to a good start.

    Anyway, I'm just verbalising my thoughts after reading all the comments. The thread had started to go down the route of split ticketing and I don't know if that's really relevant here.

    It seems like common sense doesn't get applied to being prosecuted in these cases - the witness statement is wrong, the journey is wrong, they only give you 14 or 21 days to respond to their communications (which you do) and they don't have to bother responding at all so it just all adds up to you being wrong regardless of whether or not it's true or not.

    To me, this rule they implement under the guise of catching "fare dodgers" is actually designed to generate revenue by only targeting the people who have the ability to pay and wouldn't want to go to court. People like to throw the 'byelaws' as the reason for doing it, but lets not dress this up into something it's not. They are seeing it as a way to generate money, full stop.

    Take Leeds for example, they pull people outside of the ticket buying Q inside the barriers while still on the platform and then hit them with the letter and then the fine. Then, when you're walking away feeling like a criminal you get to watch the youth in front run through the barriers without paying.

    Where is the justice man, where is it because if someone is in the Q to buy a ticket before they leave the platform I think it's fair to say that they weren't trying to diddle the rail company out of money. But that is where all the revenue officers stand, it doesn't make sense.

    Rant over, there's more than one way to skin a cat if the justice system fails you.

    No, I'm not going to dress up as a giant bat and start fighting crime.

    Thanks for everyone's help, it has been made clear that regardless of innocence there's nothing you can do.

    NG
     
  21. mikeg

    mikeg Member

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    Unless their thought was 'Oh crumbs, there are barriers, I'd better buy a ticket. I wouldn't have otherwise'. Which is probably what goes on a lot. A lot of people pay only when challenged and this needs to change. Penalty fares (which I'm not normally a fan of) would however be less 'sledgehammer to crack a nut' than prosecution. I admit penalty fares would have a role here. But to introduce them properly, Northern would have to put in more retailing facilities, which they seem unwilling to do.
    So in the absence of penalty fares, prosecution it has to be. They aren't mindreaders so can't distinguish between those who think it's okay to pay at a later stage than is required of them, and those who 'chance it', paying when they see closed ticket gates only.
     
  22. Haywain

    Haywain Established Member

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    Sorry, but you are not innocent. You were unable to produce a valid ticket when requested to do so. And you had an opportunity to purchase at Leeds where you had to change trains. And from the latest rant, it starts to sound like this isn't your first time. If you go to court you will lose because the salient fact is that you did not have a valid ticket - the journey in question and other apparent inaccuracies are not relevant.
     
  23. ainsworth74

    ainsworth74 Forum Staff Staff Member Global Moderator

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    Did they though? No-one has yet managed to confirm whether or not the passenger is obligated to delay themselves or not? That being said neither has the OP explained how long they had to make their interchange at Leeds!
     
  24. DaleCooper

    DaleCooper Established Member

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    One thing we don't know is the day and time of the journey however a quick look at evening trains on a weekday shows a very frequent service between Leeds and Bingley so it may well have been possible to buy a ticket without significant delay.

    This thread is starting to remind me of a similar, recent thread where the OP was so indignant that they were in danger of picking a fight they were bound to lose.
     
  25. ainsworth74

    ainsworth74 Forum Staff Staff Member Global Moderator

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    Yes I looked myself and most journey itineraries suggested a wait of 15 - 20 minutes between trains which, even in the morning peak, I would say it would have been reasonable to expect to OP to have purchased their ticket at Leeds (unless there were significant delays on the service from Burley Park?).

    I have to say that I think the OP is picking a fight which they're going to lose. I wouldn't have said it's a certainty but I do not think it will be likely that they can win this without some sort of proof that either they tried to buy a ticket at Leeds or that they would have missed a train trying to do so.
     
  26. bb21

    bb21 Forum Staff Staff Member Global Moderator

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    How long was the interchange at Leeds?

    Did you even attempt to pay the additional fare on arrival at Leeds, by joining the queue or seeking someone out for example?
     
  27. Harpers Tate

    Harpers Tate Established Member

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    Whilst I don't claim any expertise here, I would like to observe that the actual journey made, vs. that claimed by the company, may be material for this reason:
    At the actual starting point (Burley Park) there are no facilities whatsoever
    At the claimed starting point (Shipley) there are facilities for ticket issue

    If we suppose (rightly or wrongly, because there does seem to be no clarity here; merely divided opinion) that there is no requirement to purchase the necessary second ticket at an intermediate place (Leeds) and if we suppose (rightly or wrongly) that no opportunity to purchase onboard was offered, then provision of facilities at the point of origin is surely highly material? And hence, so are the journey details.
     
    Last edited: 12 Aug 2015
  28. Haywain

    Haywain Established Member

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    DaveNewcastle looks to have fairly clearly established the need to buy the ticket, and the argument about ticketing facilities is not relevant because by arguing that the train was not boarded at Shipley the OP will have to confirm that he/she passed through Leeds where facilities are available.
     
  29. Nextgenratpack

    Nextgenratpack Member

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    Guys,

    Yes I had a rant, but I think that's allowed. The above is just a rant as well and yes, it was my first time and yes I've ranted because I cannot believe the way you get treated.

    However, all the challenges on the thread are really helpful and useful to me because it's providing me a better understanding of what questions I will be asked and whether or not I have an evidence based response.

    But to say that I will lose is missing the point because in my eyes I've already lost. If I don't go to trial and plead guilty then I have a criminal record. The only way I can stop that from happening is by going to trial and taken it on. I believe that it's actually Northern Rail who've picked the fight and I'm now in a corner. I have nothing to lose except a couple of hundred quid more and that is better than being called a criminal.

    So, the burning question is this, what did I do at Leeds station when I had to switch trains...

    I had 15 minutes on arrival at Leeds station, the Q was quite long, but nothing that would have prevented me from getting a ticket. So I got in line and waited my turn.

    It came along and they wanted to charge me the Leeds to Bingley fare.....did you know that it costs more to travel from Leeds to Bingley than it does to travel from Burley Park to Bingley?

    So, I didn't buy the ticket at that point and went on to the train knowing that I could still purchase my ticket at any point of the journey before exiting the station at the final destination.

    More fool me.
     
  30. ainsworth74

    ainsworth74 Forum Staff Staff Member Global Moderator

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    Leeds - Bingley tickets:

    Anytime Day Return: £6.60
    Off-Peak Day Return: £4.80
    Anytime Day Single: £3.90

    Burley Park - Bingley tickets:

    Anytime Day Return: £6.90
    Off-Peak Day Return: £5.30
    Anytime Day Single: £4.00

    So I'm not sure what you mean by Leeds to Bingley being more expensive?

    But in any case I think you're now stuffed. You had an opportunity to purchase a ticket at Leeds as you got to the front of the queue and spoke to someone! By not buying a ticket at Leeds and then travelling on to Bingley you unfortunately committed an offence by travelling on a train without a valid ticket. Therefore I would strongly advise you to consider attempting to settle this out of court with Northern.
     
  31. 221129

    221129 Established Member

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    So you are guilty then..
     
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