Awaiting Fare Evasion

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JoeSeph

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Good afternoon everyone,

On 12th April i was stopped at the barriers where i told the security officer i needed a ticket from a station closer to where i did get the train from. He told me he would check the CCTV and asked me again if i was telling the truth. I told him the truth and was issued with a caution. I gave my correct details and complied with him whilst he completed the form with me.
Having read through the various questions posed on this forum i feel confident that i know how to proceed, but my question is how long do the letters/court summons usually take to come through? It has been playing on my mind and the wait for the inevitable is draining.
If it doesn't come through - how long before i can 'forget about it'?
I am not for one minute thinking that i have got away with anything because i held my hands up but i would have thought it would have arrived by now.
The train line was Chiltern Railways - if that helps anyone to answer my question?

Thanks in advance to anyone who can help.
 
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Fawkes Cat

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1,407
Welcome to the forum.

The very quick answer is that you won't know if you're in the clear until maybe seven months have passed. But you'll probably hear something in a couple of months.

Where does seven months come from? Well, the railway's power to make you pay for this comes from their power to take you to court, because if they can't take you to court then there's nothing they can do if you ignore them. That might sound a bit obscure, but it does matter, because the railway has up to six months from the date of the incident to ask the court to start a prosecution. But it's not quite as simple as 'six months' because once the court has been asked, it might take the court a few weeks to get in touch with you - so before you're certain that nothing can be done to you, you have to wait for six months and a few weeks - which is seven months or so.

But it's rare for first contact to take that long. It's more likely that the railway will write to you within a couple of months. By the sounds of things, you've read through what we normally advise, so you'll know that our usual advice is to respond to all letters, explaining (politely and briefly) that you will not break the rules again, and asking if the railway will agree to an out of court settlement. If you're lucky, they will. If you're not lucky (or if this isn't the first time that you haven't paid the right fare) they may insist on you going to court. If you don't keep in touch, I am as certain as I can be that you will be taken to court.

So keep an eye out for a letter - one could arrive in the next few weeks. If for some reason you won't be at the address you gave the railway, get the post redirected to your new address.
 

WesternLancer

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12 Apr 2019
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3,865
Good afternoon everyone,

On 12th April i was stopped at the barriers where i told the security officer i needed a ticket from a station closer to where i did get the train from. He told me he would check the CCTV and asked me again if i was telling the truth. I told him the truth and was issued with a caution. I gave my correct details and complied with him whilst he completed the form with me.
Having read through the various questions posed on this forum i feel confident that i know how to proceed, but my question is how long do the letters/court summons usually take to come through? It has been playing on my mind and the wait for the inevitable is draining.
If it doesn't come through - how long before i can 'forget about it'?
I am not for one minute thinking that i have got away with anything because i held my hands up but i would have thought it would have arrived by now.
The train line was Chiltern Railways - if that helps anyone to answer my question?

Thanks in advance to anyone who can help.
They could (potentially) take up to 6 months* and still proceed with court action as I understand it from other re[lies on this forum, but pretty unlikely to take that long I would have thought. So you certainly can't 'forget about it' before 6 months I would suggest.

That does mean that if you move addresses within that timescale not having heard from the railway/Chiltern Trains / an org acting on their behalf, you need to set up a redirect with Royal Mail (see Royal Mail website) to ensure post is redirected as important you engage with the process when they write to you, esp in any effort to avoid court action against you, so you do not want to miss such a letter.

Obv you can get good help on this forum of courses of action when you get contacted.

*edit - cross posted with @Fawkes Cat who makes v important point about being a bit longer than 6 months
 

Hadders

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Senior Fares Advisor
Joined
27 Apr 2011
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9,031
Welcome to the forum!

I've put below the advice I normally give to people who request help from the forum in similar circumstances to yours.

You are likely to receive a letter from the train company (or an investigation company acting on their behalf) which will probably take a few weeks to arrive saying that they have received a report, are considering prosecuting you and asking for your version of events. It is important that you engage with and reply to this letter. You might want to include the following in your reply:

- That you are sorry for what has happened
- What you have learned from the incident
- That you are keen to settle the matter without the need for court action
- Offer to pay the outstanding fare and the train company's administrative costs in dealing with the matter

Make sure your reply is short and concise, don't give a sob story - they've heard it all before. Most train companies are usually prepared to offer an administrative settlement (commonly known as an out of court settlement) for people who engage with the process and who haven't come to their attention before. There is no guarantee of this and the train company would be well within their rights to prosecute you in the magistrates court.

If you are offered a settlement the amount varies depending on the train company and circumstances but tend to be a few hundred pounds plus the outstanding fare. An out of court settlement might appear to be a fine, but it isn't and you won't have a criminal record as a result of accepting one.
 

JoeSeph

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13 Apr 2021
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Location
Warwick
Thanks for the answers above, very helpful. I will continue to keep an eye out for the letter and if i have any questions that i cannot find answers to, ill be back in touch. Cheers.
 

js1000

Member
Joined
14 Jun 2014
Messages
980
Genuine advice: do not "short fare". Train companies understandably hate it - more so than travelling without a ticket as it's more difficult to identify when inspecting tickets at destination stations than if you have no ticket at all. If you're lucky you may hear nothing but as Fawkes Cat say this can take months before limitation period for court summons ends.
 

JoeSeph

New Member
Joined
13 Apr 2021
Messages
3
Location
Warwick
Thought I would give an update for this thread as it has now been resolved. I received a letter stating that they wanted to hear anything which could be argued in mitigation. Let’s be honest I had no defence and used the advice from this forum to own up and just admit it all. The letter was long and rambling if I’m honest and stated how serious my offence was. Had I not read this forum I would have been more worried. it said they were investigating me for a further 2 offences as well which confused me a bit but turns out this was all related to the same incident.
I wrote back immediately. I decided to email it to the email address given. I was a bit unsure about doing this as I had read some people didn’t get a response. I suppose I was just keen to get it over with ASAP regardless of the next step. Within 3 days I had an email back (no letter) stating again the seriousness of the offence but they were giving me a chance to pay the cost of all charges which totalled £313.80. Bare in mind that my offence of fare evasion was £3-£4. I was expecting upwards of £500 from what I had read on here so I was strangely relieved at that. Anyway I paid it right away. I didn’t hear anything back for a few days nor did I get a receipt of payment. I phoned Chiltern Railways a few days after who couldn’t put me through to their fraud department as it was an outside agency apparently. A day later I got an email saying the matter is now closed.
Ive leant an expensive lesson. I worried a lot in the 6 weeks or so between offence and it getting resolved. It’s now behind me and I sure as hell won’t be doing it again.
thanks to everyone who contributes to this site. It helped me know what to do and I appreciate it all.
 

Hadders

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Thank you for updating us, we don't always get to hear of outcomes so it is good to know that you have been able to resolve the issue.
 
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