Daughter issued with penalty fare by SouthEastern

sladeeee

Member
Joined
23 Aug 2021
Messages
7
Location
Devon
Thank you all in advance for taking the time to read and possibly help with this! It's a bit long but it says to include all info!

Last week my 16 year old daughter travelled alone from Devon to London and then on with a friend to stay with them in Kent. (All very well planned and checked by us by the way!!)

Before travelling to Paddington she got a 16 year old's railcard, and bought her ticket using thetrainline.com which gave her an eTicket which she used on the gates at either end, and the same on the return journey a few days later. Whilst staying with her friend in Kent, they arranged to travel from Gillingham to Victoria to meet some other friends. Upon arriving at the station the train was already on the platform and the ticket barriers were open. Worried/panicking about missing the train, and hence the arranged meeting, my daughter and her friend ran for the train as they expected to buy the ticket on board. As an aside to explain this - she once spent a year "commuting" to school on SW Trains... she always had a season ticket but every day other school children would buy their tickets from guards on the train. (I also commuted for 20 years on SWT and although I always had a season ticket this again was something that I understood to be the norm - find the guard and buy your ticket asap and all's good). Having got on the train there was no guard that she could find so she went onto thetrainline.com to buy a ticket - she entered Gillingham as the departure station but it gave an error and wouldn't let her continue as the train had already left. So she entered the next station Chatham - but before she could complete the purchase they had passed through and this also errored and she had to put the next station Rochester. She paid for 2 tickets at the correct price and thetrainline.com issued a voucher for printing on a ticket machine "at any station" - she hadn't expected this as previously she got an eTicket but assumed she could just print this at Victoria. Her debit card was debited as soon as she made the payment and she believed (as do I!) that that constituted a purchased ticket.

At Victoria my daughter and her friend approached a member of staff at the gate and showed them the thetrainline.com voucher and asked where they could print the ticket from. They were told to speak to 2 men who were presumably inspectors who proceded to have what was in my opinion a rather dismissive, patronising and passive-aggressive conversation. They told my daughter the code didn't constitute a ticket as it wasn't printed, and then lectured her on how SouthEastern don't receive the payment from thetrainline.com until she prints the ticket - I don't think that's relevant in the slightest and my daughter said they'd approached the staff asking just that, how/where do they print them. The inspectors then split the 2 girls apart (inappropriate really) and proceded to ask quite forcefully "who let you through the ticket barriers" - my daughter explained they were open and he again demanded to know "who let you through". My daughter stated yet again that the barriers were open and she'd tried to buy the correct ticket, but the inspector then started saying how she could have come from Dover Priory (?) and they'd be checking CCTV to check everything etc. My daughter again said she had paid and they had come from Gillingham where her friend lives, the money had been taken from her card, and she can print the ticket. The inspector now asks her for her address - when she gives her address in Devon he says he doesn't believe her... what can she say or do? She obviously states that the address is hers and now the inspector says she might have come from Plymouth! (I mean really?!). My daughter was obviously very uncomfortable having thought she was doing the right thing and again says she's paid for the ticket and why can't he let her print it - the inspector now demands to see her railcard for the thetrainline.com ticket/voucher - so she shows her railcard. But he still refuses to let her print the ticket and says the small print on thetrainline.com says the ticket has to be printed before travel - my daughter says she didn't see anything saying that and the inspector says "it does, it's just in the small print that nobody bothers to read"!

To cap it all off, whilst all of this is going on a young man (adult) is stopped without a ticket... he simply claims he must have dropped it, and my daughter says he was let through whilst they were stopped and issued with Penalty Fares.

I would be interested to hear thoughts on this please - to my mind this is overly officious and inappropriate in the circumstances. The language used was indirectly quite threatening with talk of CCTV and accusing her of lying and that she might have come from Plymouth (since when do trains go from Plymouth to Victoria via Gilingham?!), quite intimidating and daunting for a 16 year old by herself in London for the first time. My daughter was clearly not from the area, had made what she believed was a correct ticket purchase and her card had been debited. Is this really not considered a valid ticket or authority to travel? She can show she bought all the correct tickets on her other trips, and she approached staff asking how to print the ticket at Victoria before exiting the barrriers... it's hardly deliberate fare evasion. If it's a mistake, it's a very honest mistake.

My daughter says as well as the ticket barriers being open there was nothing to indicate she could not proceed onto the train without a ticket.

The penalty fare notice states "Grounds Info: Has trainline booking ref not printed at rtr prior travel".

Thetrainline.com doesn't offer the option of an eTicket for this trip, it simply states:

Collect from any station with a ticket machine. How?​


  • Tap 'Collect Tickets' at the ticket machine
  • Insert the payment card used or if you pay with PayPal use any valid debit/credit card
  • Type in your collection reference (shown after you have bought your tickets)
Wait for your tickets to be printed


It doesn't not state you have to do this BEFORE travel. There are 3 sets of conditions too, one of which are "carriers' conditions" here (https://static.trainlinecontent.com/content/WEB/documents/NationalRail_ConditionsOfTravel.pdf) which is a 36 page PDF, presumably the document the inspector says nobody bothers (or agrees) to read before purchase!

Is there any legal or procedural issue with this penalty fare? It seems entirely unfair on someone who has made her best attempt to do the right thing without knowing that, presumably, somewhere in 36 pages of T&Cs she should not have done this and in complete contradiction of personal experience of buying tickets on board trains?
 
Sponsor Post - registered members do not see these adverts; click here to register, or click here to log in
R

RailUK Forums

py_megapixel

Established Member
Joined
5 Nov 2018
Messages
4,547
Location
Northern England
I am not an expert in this type of thing, and some people who are to a much greater extent will be along shortly I'm sure. However there are a few things that I do know that I think are worth pointing out, which I feel will help clarify matters for you.

The inspectors were correct that because a ticket office and ticket machines were available at Gillingham they should have allowed enough time to purchase before boarding. They were also correct that the Trainline transaction reference is not valid for travel. Finally, even in situations where buying a ticket partway into the journey is permitted, the ticket bought has to be valid for the entire journey, so they should not have changed the origin station to Chatham or Rochester and should still have bought a ticket from Gillingham.

However, if your description of the interaction with the inspectors is accurate it seems they were acting in an extremely unprofessionally, especially considering they were questioning people who firstly had clearly made an attempt to buy a ticket and and secondly were being co-operative with them. The penalty fare was, in theory, entirely correct to be issued, but I would think it is reasonable to expect the person issuing it to deal with it in a polite manner, without asking impertinent questions such as "who let you through the ticket gates".
 

mikeg

Established Member
Joined
20 Apr 2010
Messages
1,364
Unfortunately a penalty fare is not an accusation of fare evasion and it sounds like it was issued correctly. Assuming the signage was there at the station (if there wasn't signage at the entry the penalty fare could be successfully appealed) it is made clear that you must be in possession of a valid ticket before boarding. There's no harm in appealing but it's unlikely to succeed imo.

Agree the inspectors were unprofessional if your daughter's account is anything to go by but that doesn't affect the validity of the penalty fare.
 

Hadders

Established Member
Senior Fares Advisor
Joined
27 Apr 2011
Messages
8,939
This is an unfortunate incident. Technically your daughter did not have a valid ticket for travel but on face value the way the matter has been handled by the staff at Victoria in unacceptable.

I would pay the Penalty Fare to prevent the matter from escalating. Once this has been done I would then submit a complaint, making it quite clear you expect it to be dealt with under South Eastern's complaints policy.
 

furlong

Established Member
Joined
28 Mar 2013
Messages
2,462
Location
Reading
How much was the Penalty Fare?

There's quite a bit to unpack here, but I think the bottom line is that it appears that a lie was maintained when talking to the inspectors about the station at which the journey began, and for that reason alone you will probably decide to pay this if you haven't already and write it off to experience rather than risk digging an even deeper hole.

If the full explanation about struggling to buy the ticket on the train had been given immediately at the time, I'd have expected much more sympathy to have been shown. My guess is that the inspectors correctly sensed that they were being lied to, even though they failed to get an admission, so applied the strict letter of the law. as they saw things. You could probably get the penalty fare withdrawn on the grounds it was issued incorrectly by admitting the lie - but the company would then point out the criminal offence of boarding without a ticket and probably ask for a much larger settlement.

(In case it isn't obvious to you, amongst other clues relating to the barriers, the inspectors would be able to see that the ticket bought after rushing to get onto the train was implausibly purchased before the train left the station concerned - and perhaps before it even arrived there!)
 
Last edited:

skyhigh

Established Member
Joined
14 Sep 2014
Messages
1,463
Having got on the train there was no guard that she could find so she went onto thetrainline.com to buy a ticket - she entered Gillingham as the departure station but it gave an error and wouldn't let her continue as the train had already left. So she entered the next station Chatham - but before she could complete the purchase they had passed through and this also errored and she had to put the next station Rochester. She paid for 2 tickets at the correct price
Did she buy the tickets from Gillingham (where she started her journey), or Rochester?

If Rochester, they were not the correct tickets at the correct price.
 

ta-toget

Member
Joined
28 Aug 2019
Messages
90
Location
England
Did she buy the tickets from Gillingham (where she started her journey), or Rochester?

If Rochester, they were not the correct tickets at the correct price.
It appears to have been Rochester (abbreviated and bold added by me):
…Having got on the train there was no guard that she could find so she went onto thetrainline.com to buy a ticket - she entered Gillingham as the departure station but it gave an error and wouldn't let her continue as the train had already left. So she entered the next station Chatham - but before she could complete the purchase they had passed through and this also errored and she had to put the next station Rochester. She paid for 2 tickets at the correct price and thetrainline.com issued a voucher for printing on a ticket machine "at any station" - she hadn't expected this as previously she got an eTicket but assumed she could just print this at Victoria. Her debit card was debited as soon as she made the payment and she believed (as do I!) that that constituted a purchased ticket.…
 

skyhigh

Established Member
Joined
14 Sep 2014
Messages
1,463
It appears to have been Rochester (abbreviated and bold added by me):
That's what I thought - I was just confused by the further mention of "She paid for 2 tickets at the correct price", as they wouldn't have been the correct price if they weren't the correct tickets?

If it's a short fare, purchased after departure from a station with facilities and not printed off as required I think a penalty fare is a fairly good outcome - certainly little chance of a successful appeal.
 

Bletchleyite

Veteran Member
Joined
20 Oct 2014
Messages
68,945
Location
"Marston Vale mafia"
I would agree with the others that paying the PF is sensible.

Once this is all done with, the uncollected tickets could be refunded less £10, if they were over that cost, as the Penalty Fare constitutes the fare for the journey taken.
 

furlong

Established Member
Joined
28 Mar 2013
Messages
2,462
Location
Reading
Once this is all done with, the uncollected tickets could be refunded less £10, if they were over that cost, as the Penalty Fare constitutes Not if the fare for the journey taken.

Only if they were unused single tickets - not if they were return tickets collected and used to return later. We don't have that information.
 

Watershed

Established Member
Joined
26 Sep 2020
Messages
2,678
Location
UK
There are two sides to every story.

From your daughter's perspective, she tried her best to buy a ticket but wasn't going to miss the train to do so. She didn't want to select a different train to one she took, so had to select a station down the line to get it to come up. She then paid but didn't get a ticket and actively approached the staff asking to collect her ticket, but was berated and penalised for trying to do the right thing.

From the railway's perspective, your daughter walked past facilities to buy a ticket (ticket machines/ticket office) and signs warning that she must buy a ticket before travelling. In an attempt to try and get through the barriers at Victoria she bought a cheaper 'short fare'. And then she gave a potential false address and claimed to come from a barriered station. She's lucky to have gotten away with a Penalty Fare.

Hopefully that gives a bit of context. By all means bring an appeal: unless SE withdraw the Penalty Fare before the appeal is decided, they will become statutorily barred from prosecuting. In the circumstances, that's a very valuable protection. But I wouldn't expect the appeal to succeed.
 

AlterEgo

Veteran Member
Joined
30 Dec 2008
Messages
13,543
Location
No longer here
...she had to put the next station Rochester. She paid for 2 tickets at the correct price and thetrainline.com issued a voucher for printing on a ticket machine "at any station" - she hadn't expected this as previously she got an eTicket but assumed she could just print this at Victoria. Her debit card was debited as soon as she made the payment and she believed (as do I!) that that constituted a purchased ticket.
Unfortunately the tickets weren't at the correct price because she started from Gillingham. She's short-fared there I'm afraid. The tickets are required to be printed to constitute a valid ticket - if just the booking confirmation was good enough then why would they ask anyone to print any tickets at all?
They told my daughter the code didn't constitute a ticket as it wasn't printed, and then lectured her on how SouthEastern don't receive the payment from thetrainline.com until she prints the ticket - I don't think that's relevant in the slightest
It's also untrue. The inspectors shouldn't have said that.
My daughter was obviously very uncomfortable having thought she was doing the right thing and again says she's paid for the ticket and why can't he let her print it - the inspector now demands to see her railcard for the thetrainline.com ticket/voucher - so she shows her railcard. But he still refuses to let her print the ticket and says the small print on thetrainline.com says the ticket has to be printed before travel - my daughter says she didn't see anything saying that and the inspector says "it does, it's just in the small print that nobody bothers to read"!
It's pretty clear when booking a ticket for collection that it needs to be collected prior to travel. I haven't booked with Trainline for a while, but their site explains:


Your tickets will be available to collect from a self-service ticket machine within 15 minutes of making your booking. They can be collected at any time, but you’ll need to make sure you have them with you before you travel.
If it's a mistake, it's a very honest mistake.
I'm certain your daughter tried to do things right and with a clean conscience, but a Penalty Fare is a disposal for honest mistakes, much like parking tickets. If the inspectors thought they were deliberately evading fares, they could in theory have reported them for prosecution under the Bylaws or Regulation of Railways Act.

It may not seem that she has been lucky here, but where passengers:
- Don't have a valid ticket
- Have a booking confirmation but for a short-fare
- Have walked past purchasing facilities before getting on a train

We often see them, in this part of the forum, ending up with threats of prosecution.

I'd pay the Penalty Fare and agree with other posters to take up the matter of the inspectors separately after that's been done. Sorry that you and your daughter have ended up on the wrong end of things here - but the matter is easily taken care of.
 
Joined
10 Mar 2015
Messages
761
As others have said pay up the penalty fare and complain if you feel you wish to. Before you do so though, do bear in mind that the account from your daughter will sound worse than it is (bear with me) because she was scared, not necessarily by the staff member but by being put in that situation, this will have raised the tension and made everything feel a lot worse. You're also her dad, so of course you want to look after her, again perfectly normal but just remember these things can skew your opinion compared to a third party.

The other point I'd make is that children and young teens are some of the most prolific fare evaders on the railway and I'd imagine on a shift on the barriers at Victoria the staff members involved will have dealt with several already. While your daughter and her friend sound honest and polite, I'm afraid most of the young people they will have dealt with that day won't have been. While each situation must be taken individually, it's easier to see how their actions might seem heavy handed, especially when compared to my point in the above paragraph.

The penalty fare might seem harsh, but if there is a clear rule it has to be enforced fairly and equally across everyone, sometimes this means it's a bit harsh, sometimes it means someone thinks they've got away with it, that is I'm afraid just life.

As I've said by all means write in, you never know, but you might like to avoid demonising two people just doing their stressful job which seems them abused daily (at best).
 

sladeeee

Member
Joined
23 Aug 2021
Messages
7
Location
Devon
Thanks for all the replies, I appreciate people taking the time to reply, and I understand the concensus is that no ticket means penalty fare, however there are a couple of points worth replying to in particular although they might not change anyone's opinions!

They were also correct that the Trainline transaction reference is not valid for travel. Finally, even in situations where buying a ticket partway into the journey is permitted, the ticket bought has to be valid for the entire journey, so they should not have changed the origin station to Chatham or Rochester and should still have bought a ticket from Gillingham.

The issue I have with this is that on thetrainline.com, it just says "Buy Ticket". It takes the money. You then get a code and are told to print the ticket at a machine. Now I appreciate you all *know* the rules, but how is a normal "non-train" person (let alone a 16 year old alone in London) possibly expected to understand that "Buy Ticket" is not buying a ticket? I don't think any person (or judge for that matter) would expect that finalising that transaction and being debited the money doesn't constitute buying the ticket. And nobody is going to click and then read through 3 sets of conditions of 36 pages looking to see if there is any small print telling them to do otherwise - I don't think that's what a *reasonable* person would do (especially younger internet-savvy people). Just to be crystal clear, it's not a booking confirmation where you pay when you print your ticket, the money is taken right there and then - just as it was when travelling from Exeter to Paddington, except for that ticket an eTicket is provided. There's no "tick to accept conditions" either - I don't actually think T&Cs are enforceable unless explicitly agreed to either?


How much was the Penalty Fare?

There's quite a bit to unpack here, but I think the bottom line is that it appears that a lie was maintained when talking to the inspectors about the station at which the journey began, and for that reason alone you will probably decide to pay this if you haven't already and write it off to experience rather than risk digging an even deeper hole.

If the full explanation about struggling to buy the ticket on the train had been given immediately at the time, I'd have expected much more sympathy to have been shown. My guess is that the inspectors correctly sensed that they were being lied to, even though they failed to get an admission, so applied the strict letter of the law. as they saw things. You could probably get the penalty fare withdrawn on the grounds it was issued incorrectly by admitting the lie - but the company would then point out the criminal offence of boarding without a ticket and probably ask for a much larger settlement.

(In case it isn't obvious to you, amongst other clues relating to the barriers, the inspectors would be able to see that the ticket bought after rushing to get onto the train was implausibly purchased before the train left the station concerned - and perhaps before it even arrived there!)

I really don't get this "view" (or insinuation!) - what lie? My daughter told the truth 100% from the beginning. She told them she travelled from Gillingham and explained how they tried to buy the ticket using thetrainline.com as there was no guard and that it errored as they had already left the station(s). That is correct - I actually tested it last night on that exact journey and it errored after selecting Gillingham as the train left... you then have to search again and then that train has gone... so you're left with a choice of buying no ticket, or trying to buy a valid ticket from the next station for that train. So far from being "implausible", that's exactly how it works. I'm not sure you've understood what has happened, or how thetrainline.com works, but on the one hand people are saying buy the ticket before the journey, now you're saying it's "implausibly purchased before the train left the station"?! Makes no sense.

The Penalty Fare is £31. The fare was £15.50 reduced to £7.75 with her (valid!) railcard. She has also lost £10 admin fee (as she paid for both tickets) so her genuine attempt to buy a valid ticket is going to change from £7.75 to £41! She's 16, how do they think she will pay that?


From the railway's perspective, your daughter walked past facilities to buy a ticket (ticket machines/ticket office) and signs warning that she must buy a ticket before travelling. In an attempt to try and get through the barriers at Victoria she bought a cheaper 'short fare'. And then she gave a potential false address and claimed to come from a barriered station. She's lucky to have gotten away with a Penalty Fare.

Again just to clarify, she saw no signs about buying a ticket before travelling, furthermore in her experience of 1 year on SW trains the exact opposite is true and it's fine to board a train without paying (is this a London thing? In 20 years of commuting I saw people buy tickets every day from guards). Her address was genuine of course. She didn't claim to come from a barriered station, she did come from that station!


It's pretty clear when booking a ticket for collection that it needs to be collected prior to travel. I haven't booked with Trainline for a while, but their site explains:
I have now found that section on their website, but that is definitely not displayed anywhere when buying the ticket - nobody rushing to buy a ticket can be expected to hunt around FAQs looking for more information, that's not forming part of the contract when payment is taken and is not at all clear.


My daughter actually has autism (diagnosed) so firstly travelling to a new place like London "alone" was a big thing, secondly she is incapable of lying... to the point where it gets her in hot water because she just tells the truth about everything. The idea of missing the train, plus the consequence of missing the arranged meeting, would have been awful for her - she hates change and anything not going to plan - which is why she would have run to get on the train knowing that you can buy the ticket on the train.

I get the fact that "knowing the rules" a short fare should become a penalty fare but as she did not see any sign saying you must have a ticket (and her personal experience said that wasn't the case anyway), once she has boarded that train what is she supposed to do if there is no guard to buy a ticket from? Having made her best attempt to buy the correct ticket, if she had simply not bought the ticket she would be £10 better off.

From a legal perspective I'm wondering (a) how that ticket purchase is possibly not a legal contract at the time money is taken, (b) what alternative was there once on the train, (c) the penalty fare says "From Rochester to Victoria" which is incorrect, she travelled from Gillingham [I would understand it if it was Gillingham to Rochester!], (d) she does not have £41 to pay them so what alternatives does she have? I would very happily go to court to let a judge decide on it but it's not in my name and there seems no option other than an "appeal" which will ignore all of these issues presumably :(
 

skyhigh

Established Member
Joined
14 Sep 2014
Messages
1,463
So you mean to say that if I purchase a non-refundable ticket and don't travel, Trainline keeps all of the money? Certainly not how it worked about five years ago.
As I understand it, with some ticket types, if the ticket is not collected Trainline may now issue an automatic refund.
 

Haywain

Established Member
Joined
3 Feb 2013
Messages
6,353
So you mean to say that if I purchase a non-refundable ticket and don't travel, Trainline keeps all of the money? Certainly not how it worked about five years ago.
No, I mean that until the ticket is collected, or auto-collected some time after expiry, the TOC does not receive its settlement from the purchase.
 

Bletchleyite

Veteran Member
Joined
20 Oct 2014
Messages
68,945
Location
"Marston Vale mafia"
I have now found that section on their website, but that is definitely not displayed anywhere when buying the ticket

It absolutely, definitely is. When you buy a ticket on one of the apps, the final stage before payment shows you the fulfilment options. In this case the Trainline app shows it near the button you press to buy.

I can sort of see why she might have thought she could do that at Victoria on arrival (so I can see scope for improvement there to add "you must do this before you travel"), and perhaps you should have to tap it to confirm rather than it selecting by default if the only option, but it is very clear that that is how you will be getting the ticket, and thus by extension that you haven't got it until you do do that.

Because a Byelaw prosecution would without a doubt succeed (as a simple matter of fact that a valid ticket was not held when boarding, and there was a means to purchase one at the station*), paying the Penalty Fare is absolutely the right course of action here; any other course of action could prove very expensive.

* Even boarding and immediately purchasing an e-ticket is technically not acceptable, though in practice would be unlikely to be an issue. You must do it before you step through the train door, or if it's a compulsory ticket area (rare, and not in this case) before entering that part of the station.
 

Attachments

  • Screenshot_20210824-095339.png
    Screenshot_20210824-095339.png
    134.4 KB · Views: 114
Last edited:

AlterEgo

Veteran Member
Joined
30 Dec 2008
Messages
13,543
Location
No longer here
No, I mean that until the ticket is collected, or auto-collected some time after expiry, the TOC does not receive its settlement from the purchase.
Thanks. Makes sense.

Thanks for all the replies, I appreciate people taking the time to reply, and I understand the concensus is that no ticket means penalty fare, however there are a couple of points worth replying to in particular although they might not change anyone's opinions!
I’m really sorry to say that it’s not a consensus, it’s simply a fact that if they didn’t have a valid ticket (and in this case had purchased an uncollected ticket and short-fares), a Penalty Fare is the most reasonable and best outcome for her.

The issue I have with this is that on thetrainline.com, it just says "Buy Ticket". It takes the money. You then get a code and are told to print the ticket at a machine. Now I appreciate you all *know* the rules, but how is a normal "non-train" person (let alone a 16 year old alone in London) possibly expected to understand that "Buy Ticket" is not buying a ticket? I don't think any person (or judge for that matter) would expect that finalising that transaction and being debited the money doesn't constitute buying the ticket.
She did buy the ticket but didn’t collect it, which is the issue. Why do you think it is necessary to collect the ticket at all? Please understand I’m not judging you or your daughter, and we see people come a cropper from this sort of thing often in the forums, but it helps to try and see things from the train company’s point of view.
I actually tested it last night on that exact journey and it errored after selecting Gillingham as the train left... you then have to search again and then that train has gone... so you're left with a choice of buying no ticket, or trying to buy a valid ticket from the next station for that train.
Yeah, you can’t buy a ticket for a train that has left because you need to print it before you board.
Again just to clarify, she saw no signs about buying a ticket before travelling, furthermore in her experience of 1 year on SW trains the exact opposite is true and it's fine to board a train without paying (is this a London thing? In 20 years of commuting I saw people buy tickets every day from guards).
It’s true in most parts of the network, especially urban areas. It may be that in your part of the network there are no ticket machines or means to buy a ticket at the station, and hence buying on board is the standard way of doing things.
I get the fact that "knowing the rules" a short fare should become a penalty fare but as she did not see any sign saying you must have a ticket (and her personal experience said that wasn't the case anyway), once she has boarded that train what is she supposed to do if there is no guard to buy a ticket from? Having made her best attempt to buy the correct ticket, if she had simply not bought the ticket she would be £10 better off.
She is supposed to alight and purchase the correct ticket for her journey. She can’t board a train at Gillingham without a ticket because there are facilities there to buy one before travel. She must buy a ticket at the first opportunity I’m afraid.

I do have sympathy with you and am sure I’d feel the same frustration, but we can only give the most pragmatic advice which will result in the best possible outcome for you and your daughter. In this case, I’m afraid it is to pay the Penalty Fare as soon as possible, as it was correctly issued with no grounds for appeal.
 
Last edited:

sladeeee

Member
Joined
23 Aug 2021
Messages
7
Location
Devon
It absolutely, definitely is. When you buy a ticket on one of the apps, the final stage before payment shows you the fulfilment options. In this case the Trainline app shows it near the button you press to buy.

I was questioning the phrase that you must print it "before you travel". That is definitely not clear, in fact it doesn't state that anywhere still when buying - yes it's clear you need to "collect"/print it from a machine at a station, but if you're not a "train expert" how do you know that means *before* you get on a train? It's perfectly logical to assume you print it in order to exit the destination station surely? (well it was to my daughter!) Come to that, how can they sell a ticket like that 1 minute before a train departs, it would be impossible to print it before the train leaves.

I can sort of see why she might have thought she could do that at Victoria on arrival (so I can see scope for improvement there to add "you must do this before you travel"), and perhaps you should have to tap it to confirm rather than it selecting by default if the only option, but it is very clear that that is how you will be getting the ticket, and thus by extension that you haven't got it until you do do that.

* Even boarding and immediately purchasing an e-ticket is technically not acceptable, though in practice would be unlikely to be an issue. You must do it before you step through the train door, or if it's a compulsory ticket area (rare, and not in this case) before entering that part of the station.

I appreciate you're telling me the rules as they are intended to apply, but how does a *normal person* know that? She spent a year on trains where you didn't need to do that. How is she to know these trains are diffferent? She's spent 2 years getting buses where you buy your ticket on the bus... how is she to know that she must have a physical ticket in her hand before stepping onto this train? I think it's as much an issue with thetrainline.com as SouthEastern, certainly thetrainline.com should be explicit that a ticket must be printed before travelling if that's the case, but again this was NOT the case travelling from Exeter to Paddington so she didn't know she couldn't get the eTicket until she paid and it said to print it.

She did buy the ticket but didn’t collect it, which is the issue. Why do you think it is necessary to collect the ticket at all? Please understand I’m not judging you or your daughter, and we see people come a cropper from this sort of thing often in the forums, but it helps to try and see things from the train company’s point of view.

I realise you're not judging that's fine :) To answer the question, very simply it's because she assumed the ticket had to be printed/collected in order to exit the barriers at Victoria - it didn't occur to her that she'd need a physical ticket in her hand when she has paid for one. The contract exists once the money is accepted by thetrainline.com - otherwise surely they wouldn't take the money until you printed it at a machine... look at it the other way around, what is the point of taking her money at that stage if it's not a valid ticket until it's printed? What is the point of it at all, she might as well just buy it at the machine in the first place?


Yeah, you can’t buy a ticket for a train that has left because you need to print it before you board.

It’s true in most parts of the network, especially urban areas. It may be that in your part of the network there are no ticket machines or means to buy a ticket at the station, and hence buying on board is the standard way of doing things.

She is supposed to alight and purchase the correct ticket for her journey. She can’t board a train at Gillingham without a ticket because there are facilities there to buy one before travel. She must buy a ticket at the first opportunity I’m afraid.

I understand why you're saying this, but again how is a normal person supposed to know that? It doesn't work like that where she's used trains before (typically no barriers), how is she supposed to know SouthEastern's rules when the barriers are left open and there's no guard on board?


I do have sympathy with you and am sure I’d feel the same frustration, but we can only give the most pragmatic advice which will result in the best possible outcome for you and your daughter. In this case, I’m afraid it is to pay the Penalty Fare as soon as possible, as it was correctly issued with no grounds for appeal.

Thanks, advice appreciated!
 
Last edited:

skyhigh

Established Member
Joined
14 Sep 2014
Messages
1,463
I appreciate you're telling me the rules as they are intended to apply, but how does a *normal person* know that?
The barriers would be a clue, as would the signs displayed around the station that look similar to the attached photo.

I think you're also focusing on the wrong thing here, as from what you've said your daughter had a ticket from the wrong station, so even if she printed it out at the destination she could have been faced with a penalty fare or prosecution.

Ultimately, your daughter has got a fair outcome in a penalty fare given the chain of mistakes she made.
 

Attachments

  • PF_Poster1.jpg
    PF_Poster1.jpg
    56.4 KB · Views: 80

sladeeee

Member
Joined
23 Aug 2021
Messages
7
Location
Devon
The other point I'd make is that children and young teens are some of the most prolific fare evaders on the railway and I'd imagine on a shift on the barriers at Victoria the staff members involved will have dealt with several already. While your daughter and her friend sound honest and polite, I'm afraid most of the young people they will have dealt with that day won't have been. While each situation must be taken individually, it's easier to see how their actions might seem heavy handed, especially when compared to my point in the above paragraph.

I don't think you should make excuses for them, they should be professional and deal with people politely and fairly irrespective of how hard or stressful their day had been. You don't treat everyone badly just because others are a problem, from customer services to the emergency services people have to deal with rude people but you don't treat everyone badly because of it. She explained everything politely and honestly and had clearly made great efforts to buy (and pay for) the right ticket and to print it before leaving the platform.

As I've said by all means write in, you never know, but you might like to avoid demonising two people just doing their stressful job which seems them abused daily (at best).

I haven't demonised anyone, just reported the events and others have stated the inspectors have not acted well. FWIW I think the demonising was around the other way and the inspectors have behaved badly towards 2 polite and honest girls - whilst letting a man through who simply claims he's "dropped his ticket", I guess he wasn't such a soft target!!
 

Nicholas43

Member
Joined
16 Jun 2011
Messages
390
They're unlikely to change anything, but there's a case for complaining to Trainline. Trainsplit (for example) do make it clearer:

"Ticket Delivery

All [these] journeys will be fulfilled by Ticket on Departure (TOD).

You can collect your tickets from the self-service machines or ticket office at your departure station or any station that offers ticket collection, any time
up to and including the date of travel!
..."

And, as I recall, at a later stage they recommend allowing 20 minutes to collect your tickets if you do it at the departure station just before departure.
 

RHolmes

Member
Joined
19 Jul 2019
Messages
335
She explained everything politely and honestly and had clearly made great efforts to buy (and pay for) the right ticket and to print it before leaving the platform.

It wasn’t the correct ticket.
It was an incorrect ticket that was a short fare (a ticket that did not reflect the distance and costs of the journey taken by your daughter - part of the fare was still owed).
 

Bletchleyite

Veteran Member
Joined
20 Oct 2014
Messages
68,945
Location
"Marston Vale mafia"
I appreciate you're telling me the rules as they are intended to apply, but how does a *normal person* know that? She spent a year on trains where you didn't need to do that. How is she to know these trains are diffferent? She's spent 2 years getting buses where you buy your ticket on the bus... how is she to know that she must have a physical ticket in her hand before stepping onto this train? I think it's as much an issue with thetrainline.com as SouthEastern, certainly thetrainline.com should be explicit that a ticket must be printed before travelling if that's the case, but again this was NOT the case travelling from Exeter to Paddington so she didn't know she couldn't get the eTicket until she paid and it said to print it.

Again, my screenshot from the Trainline app clearly shows that this statement is false. The app clearly stated that fulfilment was by collection, not e-ticket, on a screen you see before tapping the button to make payment.

I appreciate why you'll want to defend your daughter, but false statements won't get you anywhere.

Seriously, if you push this too hard you'll end up with the PF being withdrawn and her being prosecuted instead, which will mean her needing to pay well north of £100, and if a Regulation of Railways Act prosecution (which might work due to the short-faring) would carry a criminal record. Pay it with good grace as it is applicable, and then make appropriate specific complaints, e.g. about the attitude of staff (NOT that the PF was issued, as it was issued correctly) or about Trainline perhaps should make the wording on their app a little clearer that you must collect before you board.

It wasn’t the correct ticket.
It was an incorrect ticket that was a short fare (a ticket that did not reflect the distance and costs of the journey taken by your daughter - part of the fare was still owed).

This, unfortunately, unintentional as it was, is the root of the issue. "Short faring" is considered worse by the railway than not paying at all, as they (and the Courts) see it as carrying intent. This is why a prosecution, if made, would certainly succeed, and is why paying the Penalty Fare promptly is a very good idea. (Technically they could refund the PF and still prosecute, but this pretty much never happens, payment of it tends to close the matter).

I appreciate that in rural Devon it might still be the case that you can pay on board, but it isn't the case in the vast majority of the country - the norm is that you can't, not that you can.
 
Last edited:

AlterEgo

Veteran Member
Joined
30 Dec 2008
Messages
13,543
Location
No longer here
I realise you're not judging that's fine :) To answer the question, very simply it's because she assumed the ticket had to be printed/collected in order to exit the barriers at Victoria - it didn't occur to her that she'd need a physical ticket in her hand when she has paid for one. The contract exists once the money is accepted by thetrainline.com - otherwise surely they wouldn't take the money until you printed it at a machine... look at it the other way around, what is the point of taking her money at that stage if it's not a valid ticket until it's printed? What is the point of it at all, she might as well just buy it at the machine in the first place?
Well yes, she should really have bought it at the machine or at the booking office. It’s correct that a passenger has a contract when they don’t have a ticket and there are even cases where a contract can be implied without buying a ticket at all, but the problem you have is the contract is formed and bound by the National Rail Conditions of Travel which state she must show a valid ticket. A booking confirmation isn’t a ticket unfortunately. The Ticket is evidence of your contract and your right to travel. In any case, the point is moot becuase she short-fared anyway by buying from Rochester and not Gillingham. This in itself would warrant at the very least a Penalty Fare.
I understand why you're saying this, but again how is a normal person supposed to know that? It doesn't work like that where she's used trains before (typically no barriers), how is she supposed to know SouthEastern's rules when the barriers are left open and there's no guard on board?
They aren’t really Southeastern’s rules, they’re the National Rail Conditions of Travel and the Railway Bylaws which encompass all train companies. It sounds like in your part of the world, which is, I assume, on the rural West Country line served by SWR, you have stations with no ticket issuing facilities and hence buying on board is the first opportunity.

At Gillingham, there are ticket machines and a booking office which your daughter would have had to pass to access the train. The presence of barriers, a booking office and ticket machines as well as penalty fares signs on the station would be a good indicator that you should buy before you board.

I think, with respect, most people uninitiated to Gillingham station would believe they had to buy a ticket before getting on the train, and your daughter is the victim of her own naivety, which is perhaps forgivable due to her age.
 

Horizon22

Established Member
Associate Staff
Jobs & Careers
Joined
8 Sep 2019
Messages
2,749
Location
London
Southeastern has for several years now been entirely in the Penalty Fare network and insisted on paying before you board, even when there are conductors on board.

Obviously there is some difference because different TOCs operate in different ways which is not ideal. That's why posters are provided (and are fluorescent yellow) but of course stations are filled with various posters and can became "part of the background". Ultimately there are a lot of things where things where it is somewhat on the passenger to know what is required. I would chalk it down to inexperience and naivety but it may be worth an email to Southeastern Customer Services regarding what your daughter felt as unprofessional treatment at Victoria.
 

Jackofspades

Member
Joined
20 Jan 2020
Messages
22
Location
London
From quickly having a read I can see that one of the biggest issues here is that you think the trainline website was not clear and therefore the penalty fare is not due. However, as previously stated(using the screenshot) before you pay underneath it does say “By booking you agree to our Trainline T’Cs” and if you have a scan through it clearly says
“you’ll need to have the ticket before boarding the train, coach or bus. For some services, it may be that collection at the station is the only possible option so you will need to leave enough time to collect your ticket before boarding your train. If you don’t show a valid ticket when asked, you’ll be responsible for paying your full fare again as well as a penalty fare” So by your daughter accepting these terms there is no grounds for you to appeal against it especially as there are multiple machines at Gillingham at both entrances as well as 2 tickets windows at the main entrance, look at it like this, if you sign and agree to something and then don’t like the outcome then you can’t throw your toys out the pram and Say it’s unfair. It’s not Trainline or Southeasterns responsibility to make sure people read or don’t read these. As previously stated, best thing to do here would be to pay the penalty before it gets worse and brought to a prosecution under byelaws or worse railway regulations act for short faring and then make a complaint to southeastern separately about the attitude of the inspectors, but there is always 2 sides to a story
 

Attachments

  • BC295EFE-8572-4F74-839D-C49F2B372AB0.png
    BC295EFE-8572-4F74-839D-C49F2B372AB0.png
    973.3 KB · Views: 58
  • 6919BFCB-7AF4-4166-914F-7E00082827F6.png
    6919BFCB-7AF4-4166-914F-7E00082827F6.png
    723.5 KB · Views: 58

Islineclear3_1

Established Member
Joined
24 Apr 2014
Messages
4,057
Location
PTSO or platform depending on the weather
@sladeeee I hope your daughter won't be put off travelling by train in the future. There was no intention to avoid paying any fare and I can totally understand her reasoning of trying to purchase something.

But as others have said, pay the penalty fare and move on. It is lenient in my opinion

It's not worth the hassle arguing over technicalities in the small print
 

Top