Charged a Penalty Fare by FCC for using a Greater Anglia Only ticket

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paaltjes

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Hi,
I am Dutch and recently moved to Cambridge. Last week I urgently had to go to London. I purchased a return ticket from the machine and jumped on the London bound train which was waiting on the platform. When my ticket was checked it appeared that I was on the wrong train, First Capital Connect, while my ticket was for Greater Anglia. I had no idea that there are 2 companies offering service from Cambridge to London. On further inspection the ticket indeed mentions in very small print that the route is 'GRT ANG TRNSONLY'.
The ticket machine could not have been very clear either. I was fined £42.40 which I think is outrageous. The ticket inspector told me that this is a common occurrence, but was happy to issue the fine. Not a very welcoming experience!! Is there any hope if I contest this fine?
Thanks for any advise.
 
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hairyhandedfool

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The Penalty Fare policy is such that if you cannot produce a valid ticket for inspection upon request by an authorised person*, you may be liable to pay the greater of £20 or double the single fare. However, an authorised person* should give you the option to get a penalty fare to the next stop, where you can buy a ticket to complete your journey if it would be cheaper, I suspect in this case it would not be.

Th unfortunate point here is that because your ticket is specific to a particular train company it cannot be changed for use on another. if it had a place named on it, I beleive the authorised person* could not issue a Penalty Fare. This issue is not FCC's fault, it is how the rules are set.

*An authorised person in this case is someone acting in the course of their duties and authorised to issue penalty fares.
 

island

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Unfortunately I don't think you will have much luck contesting the Penalty Fare in this instance. You had paid a different company (a Dutch one, for the record) for your journey, so FCC was not receiving anything from you.

You can attempt an appeal on the grounds that you had recently moved over and were unfamiliar with the system but that's possibly the limit. One technical point might help though: do you remember what the next stop was when you were issued the Penalty Fare? If the next stop was not London, then the penalty fare was too high.

If you did not use the GRT ANG TRNS ticket you can get it refunded with a £10 deduction.
 

DaveNewcastle

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This will not be of very much consolation, but this suggestion from island will surely get a little of your money back:
If you did not use the GRT ANG TRNS ticket you can get it refunded with a £10 deduction.
But if you have the time, there is no harm in writing a letter of appeal, claiming that it was never apparent to you, as someone familiar with State Railways (I'll pretend not to know about the exceptions to NS in the Netherlands for a moment) and that you bought a valid ticket and travelled on what appeared to be the relevant train, all in good faith.
If you can get a simple letter from an employer, or someone in authority to confirm that you are a new resident in the UK, then attach it to your letter.

I agree with HHF and island that you are unlikely to suceed, but it does sometimes happen that a passenger is lucky!

(Don't worry too much about the use of the word 'fine'. We all use it as a colloquial term for all sorts of unwanted additional costs. It supports your argument that you are not familiar with the multi-company structure of Rail travel in the UK that you would use the word 'fine').
 

jon0844

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I'm sorry this happened. I'm sure it wasn't that clear on the TVM (as my station only has one operator, I can't be sure how Greater Anglia sets its software at Cambridge) but ''GRT ANG TRNSONLY' isn't very clear to anyone.

It's one reason why I do wonder why we can't move towards having more information displayed on tickets - either a smaller font, an extra line at the bottom or even details on the back. It's a missed opportunity now many train operators have bought new ticket machines and printers, and doesn't help you.

I am sure both train operators can profit a lot from this, but suspect it's FCC that does best because the station is operated by Greater Anglia, which means it probably puts its tickets first - and they also charge less too (generally slower trains) so more people would buy that ticket than an FCC one.

Again, it doesn't help you.

Ironically, if you'd refused to pay on the train and asked them to come after you in the post, chances are they'd not bother as I am not sure they'd take legal action against anyone from outside the UK (even if within the EU). That's my hunch, but I am sure they wanted you to pay on the spot!

Finally, if you hadn't got on a fast train (no stops on the way) and got the penalty fare (well, double the single fare in this case) and could have got off at a station before London, then you may have grounds to appeal.

For what it's worth, I was pretty confused when in Amsterdam and wanting to get a fast train to the airport.. having fears of getting it wrong and facing the Dutch equivalent of one of our revenue inspectors!
 

tannedfrog

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I heard them announcing in Amsterdam every few minutes that people can take Fyra to Schiphol without paying a supplement, so clearly many people are confused about it
 

clagmonster

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Just to give a bit of background on this, the £42.40 'fine' is a penalty fare which is calculated as twice the full single fare for the journey or £20.00, whichever is greater, in this case, the full single fare is £21.20.

All 'walk up' fares for travel on Greater Anglia are more than £10.00. Therefore, unless you used the ticket to return from London, you are eligible for a partial refund as the ticket is completely unused. To obtain this, take the ticket, and the penalty ffare notice which will prove the ticket is unused, to any booking office within 28 days of the ticket's expiry date. It will probably be easier to do the refund at Cambridge booking office if this is convenient, but it is not compulsary to do it there.
 

lyndhurst25

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Never mind a recently arrived visitor from overseas, I'd bet a lot of the lifelong residents of Cambridge wouldn't be able to tell you which company runs the trains from Cambridge to London and which routes they take. In the past 20 years we've had -

British Rail
Network South East
WAGN / West Anglia Great Northern
First Capital Connect
"One"
National Express East Anglia
Greater Anglia

"'GRT ANG TRNSONLY'" is hardly clear - it's certainly not English or Dutch (more like Double Dutch!). It may be obvious to the railway ticket geeks and railway staff who inhabit this forum but what chance does an infrequent traveller have? In my line of work I meet quite a few people who travel to the UK from overseas and a significant number of them have told me that they have been "fined" while traveling on our railways because they did not understand our ticketing system. A sad state of affairs.:(
 

bb21

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"'GRT ANG TRNSONLY'" is hardly clear
I do wonder whether a warning message pops up on the TVM when this ticket is selected for purchase that it is only valid on Greater Anglia. If there were no such message then I believe there is a case for arguing that no one outside the industry and the enthusiasts community would have a chance in hell in understanding what the abbreviations stand for.

That said, I too am not hopeful that the appeal would succeed.
 

Eire Sprinter

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I'm not an expert in fares and the advice already given is very good but just to say in my opinion "GRT ANG TRNSONLY" is like text-speak - the only full word is "only". "Grt", "Ang" and "Trns" are not words but codes and codes used should be explained by either a key on the reverse of the ticket or a notice at the point of sale.

If it were me I would contest the matter on the grounds of unintelligibility of the phrase "GRT ANG TRNSONLY".

You were honest, you had no intent to avoid paying the fare and as I see it (and as a reasonable judge may well see it) the onus is on the provider of the rail ticket to provide intelligible information.

Railway ticketing cannot work on assumptions that passengers can decode part words or parts of words blurred together.

It's not unheard of for court cases to get thrown out because of a finer detail - even such as a few letters wrong.

Hope all goes well and again these are just my personal thoughts as to what I'd probably do.
 

bb21

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I believe that even if the appeal were unsuccessful, the OP has sufficient grounds to lodge a complaint with Greater Anglia.
 

185

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Welkom bij Engeland. FCC zijn het equivalent van Satan.

Greater Anglia.... zijn eigendom van Nederlandse Spoorwegen!
 

Oscar

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Welkom bij Engeland. FCC zijn het equivalent van Satan.

Greater Anglia.... zijn eigendom van Nederlandse Spoorwegen!
Maar een onderming kan bij ons in tweeënhalv jaren de spoorweg en zijn ingewikkelde tariefsysteem niet veranderen. ATOC en de regering zijn verantwoordelijk.

(Greater Anglia cannot change the railway and its ticketing system in two and a half years, despite belonging to NS. ATOC and the government are responsible.)
 
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snail

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If it were me I would contest the matter on the grounds of unintelligibility of the phrase "GRT ANG TRNSONLY".
That's only the ticket though. I would be surprised if it was not clearer on the TVM, not that it would help someone unfamiliar with the system. Does anyone actually read all the words on the screen? Would it be so hard though to issue an extra coupon setting out the restrictions in more detail?
 

lyndhurst25

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I'm not familiar with Cambridge to London train services but don't FCC run to Kings Cross and Greater Anglia into Liverpool Street? Wouldn't it be simpler to put the destination station on the tickets rather than "London Terminals"? TOCs come and go but at least they haven't tried re-branding the station names yet and most people are familiar with them.

Were tickets ever printed with the restriction "ONE TRAINS ONLY"? Apart from being bad grammar, I'd interpret that as meaning that you weren't allowed to change trains en-route!
 

hairyhandedfool

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....Wouldn't it be simpler to put the destination station on the tickets rather than "London Terminals"? TOCs come and go but at least they haven't tried re-branding the station names yet and most people are familiar with them.
There are issues with validity if you start putting the London terminal in question rather than London Terminals.
 

bb21

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I'm not familiar with Cambridge to London train services but don't FCC run to Kings Cross and Greater Anglia into Liverpool Street? Wouldn't it be simpler to put the destination station on the tickets rather than "London Terminals"? TOCs come and go but at least they haven't tried re-branding the station names yet and most people are familiar with them.
Won't always solve the problem. If this approach is adopted, how then do you differentiate between London Midland and Virgin?
 

lyndhurst25

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Won't always solve the problem. If this approach is adopted, how then do you differentiate between London Midland and Virgin?
I was thinking about TOC-specific tickets where that TOC only serves one London terminal from a certain origin. For example a "Grand Central only" ticket to London Terminals is a bit of a contradiction as Grand Central only runs into Kings Cross. Why not just put Kings Cross as the destination?

Likewise a "Greater Anglia only" Cambridge to London ticket could have Liverpool Street as a destination or are there any other London Terminals that it would be valid to (Fenchurch Street???)?
 
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Brucey

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"'GRT ANG TRNSONLY'" is hardly clear - it's certainly not English or Dutch (more like Double Dutch!). It may be obvious to the railway ticket geeks and railway staff who inhabit this forum but what chance does an infrequent traveller have?
There's an even worse one from Cambridge to destinations south of London: "+SOUTHERN & AGA". Took me a short moment of thinking to realise that AGA (presumably) means Abellio Greater Anglia.

Considering this is presented under "Route" without anything else (like Only), one could reasonably think this ticket is only valid in the southbound direction.
 

jon0844

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There are issues with validity if you start putting the London terminal in question rather than London Terminals.
What if you kept Cambridge & London Terminals but added 'via Liverpool St' in the code instead of the txt spk?

It wouldn't matter about TOC then.

Sent from my Nexus 7 using Tapatalk 2
 

reb0118

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I'm not familiar with Cambridge to London train services but don't FCC run to Kings Cross and Greater Anglia into Liverpool Street? Wouldn't it be simpler to put the destination station on the tickets rather than "London Terminals"? TOCs come and go but at least they haven't tried re-branding the station names yet and most people are familiar with them.
I'm sure that "xc only" tickets from Edinburgh to Glasgow are issued to Glasgow Central not Glasgow Cen/QSt.
 

hairyhandedfool

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I was thinking about TOC-specific tickets where that TOC only serves one London terminal from a certain origin. For example a "Grand Central only" ticket to London Terminals is a bit of a contradiction as Grand Central only runs into Kings Cross. Why not just put Kings Cross as the destination?...
Yes but, wouldn't a Doncaster to Kings Cross ticket be valid on GC, EC, FCC, Northern and Hull trains, unless specifically routed Grand Central Only? or East Coast Only? or Hull Trains Only? Furthermore, there is a restriction of excessing TOC specific fares, and by changing the ticket, the rule would have to change. Changes to tickets and restrictions usually don't end well for the passengers.

We have also had a case on this forum recently of a forum member asking for a ticket to London Bridge and accused staff of "wrongly" selling a ticket to London Bridge, when a ticket to Victoria was cheaper!
--- old post above --- --- new post below ---
What if you kept Cambridge & London Terminals but added 'via Liverpool St' in the code instead of the txt spk?

It wouldn't matter about TOC then.

Sent from my Nexus 7 using Tapatalk 2
'Via' means 'to pass through'.

To what London Terminal would you be going if you went 'via Liverpool Street', and more to the point, how is it any different to the destination being London Liverpool Street.
 

philjo

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Just use Route "via Audley End" (or similar) for GA services.

FCC could use route via Royston (or Hitchin) though the fast trains are non-stop so passengers might not know the route taken.
 

talltim

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There's an even worse one from Cambridge to destinations south of London: "+SOUTHERN & AGA". Took me a short moment of thinking to realise that AGA (presumably) means Abellio Greater Anglia.

Considering this is presented under "Route" without anything else (like Only), one could reasonably think this ticket is only valid in the southbound direction.
and when using large 'range' cookers
 

hluraven

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Just use Route "via Audley End" (or similar) for GA services.

FCC could use route via Royston (or Hitchin) though the fast trains are non-stop so passengers might not know the route taken.
None of these, or any of the other suggestions, would help the OP who didn't realise there were different routes or operators and "jumped on the first London train waiting at the platform".

Anything at all printed on the ticket wouldn't have helped in this situation.
 

hairyhandedfool

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Just use Route "via Audley End" (or similar) for GA services.

FCC could use route via Royston (or Hitchin) though the fast trains are non-stop so passengers might not know the route taken.
It still doesn't address some issues, Cross Country call at Cambridge, Audley End and Stansted Airport. Then you have to consider the routes via Hertford and/or Enfield.
 

jopsuk

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The TVMs at Cambridge have "Liverpool Street only" on the fare selection buttons. It is pretty clear in my opinion, on both types of machine.
 

jon0844

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'Via' means 'to pass through'.

To what London Terminal would you be going if you went 'via Liverpool Street', and more to the point, how is it any different to the destination being London Liverpool Street.
I presumed you couldn't change the London Terminals aspect, so thought of using the restrictions/description text in a more logical way.

It only works at Cambridge, not as a solution for other stations - or so I thought until other TOCs were mentioned.

And while I realise what via means, once you've got to Liverpool Street then you're at the terminal and there's no longer any passing through. I guess you mean someone might go via FCC to Finsbury Park or King's Cross and then take a tube to Liverpool Street - but that wouldn't be allowed with a London Terminals ticket anyway.

If there was no 'via' then it would be an any permitted ticket, which obviously allows you to use FCC or GA. I am not sure how much more expensive these are, but it's the least risk option.

It's basically confusing to have such a odd way of writing the restriction and shows the limitation of only being able to write a certain amount of characters on the ticket.

When I look at the new style tickets (on printers that print an image - so any fixed layout is merely down to the desire to adopt the same layout as older printers), I can see how there's scope to tighten up some line spacing and fit in another line.

In fact, on my ticket from Hatfield to Manchester when I travelled last week, the Route and Validity boxes are in a reduced size font that serves no real purpose as there's still only one line - yet with very little work you could easily get in another line of text at the exact same size. That was printed on a new machine at King's Cross which seems to have a higher resolution than those printed at Hatfield (see the carnet sales coupon above it), where the font is stretched to fill the entire space but where you could have used a smaller, less-bold, font and gone for two lines. [And why, given the bold font, has the FCC issued ticket gone for such a thin font when printed in reverse??]

Tickets.jpg

Alternatively, if we can't print custom information on the reverse - why can't Greater Anglia simply use ticket stock that has key information on the back that is fixed? The front could then refer you to the back, where it clearly explains what the silly text means.

Or we just accept that the character limitation will always cause these problems and just ignore it - as ATOC clearly seems to be keen to do.

We've got a standard ticket design, but I am sure we could compare tickets issued around the UK from different machines and see that there are plenty of variations on how they look once printed. If someone actually took the bull by the horns and tried to address some of the issues that go beyond printing restrictions, we might get somewhere - but it's obviously a low priority and I'm sure that once this thread dies down, everything will carry on until the next 'victim' posts a story!
 
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jopsuk

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Actually, there's an interesting bit- the ticket machines at Cambridge clearly say "Liverpool Street only" on the fare buttons on the screen, but the tickets themselves are GA Only- in fact, valid short to Tottenham hale, or to Stratford. Or indeed stopping short at other stations.
 

jon0844

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I so wish we didn't have TOCs competing with each other, and just had a TfL style operation which would mean a standard fare to London (the any permitted ticket) and that's it.

I'd rather have a premium for using a FCC 'Express' train (i.e. the non-stop 'Cambridge Cruiser') as a way of charging a different fare than the route itself, defined by who operates it and of no real relevance to the average passenger here, let alone those visiting from abroad. This would effectively be a HS1 style supplement, and the faster trains would be marked or announced/displayed as such.

As we get more super franchises, I guess the problem fixes itself in some locations, such as when there's no Southern and FCC tickets from Brighton due to them merging - but for now it's a bit of a mess. Yet the vast majority of rail users only have a single TOC serving them, so where do they benefit from the supposed competition?

It's just as bizarre (from a visitors point of view) when you see two separate ticket offices at St Pancras; one operated by EMT and one by FCC.. with both marked for UK travel. Why not just the one joined up ticket office?
 
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