Expired Railcard Penalty Notice?

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glzckjord

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Bolton
Ok... so I'm a little stumped, on Wednesday the 14th of April 2021 I travelled from Bolton to Manchester Piccadilly (3 stops) £4.70 ticket price, but I, without knowing that my Railcard had expired bought the ticket with my Railcard active, I didn't know the card had expired as it was the first time that I had travelled since August 9th 2020 and it was a 3 year card, I only noticed it had expired once a member of staff at Manchester Piccadilly asked to see my Railcard, where I proceeded to open the app only to find out that it had expired 12 DAYS PRIOR, I have had a Railcard for years now and have never had an issue on any train service so I assumed I'd be able to just pay the difference/buy a new ticket... Boy was I wrong, the member of staff proceeded to lecture me and I was kind of bereft as I explained that I hadn't travelled, and even showed her my Trainline account and Bank statements to show her that, after I said I'd pay for a new ticket, she said ''That won't be necessary sir'' then proceeded to ask for my name, address and behold, I got a letter from DRPU (Debt Recovery and Prosecutions Unit) saying that I had to explain my side of the story, I proceeded to email them explaining the whole situation and told them that it was a genuine mistake and due to the current circumstances, especially due to my Railcard only being expired for under 2 weeks, I hoped that we'd be able to come to some sort of reasonable conclusion. 4 days passed and today I received a 'FIXED PENALTY NOTICE' telling me that I had 14 days to pay £94.70 or else I'd be taken to court, the reasoning being and I quote 'You Travelled from Bolton to Manchester Piccadilly without paying the full fare and with the intent of avoiding that fare'???? I'm sorry but I specified in both person and the emails that it was a mistake and that I was more than happy to pay for a new ticket/pay the difference, I'm not wanting to go through all of this over £1.40... This whole situation has kind of caught me off guard, if anybody could give me any help as I'm looking to possibly appeal this after this Bank Holiday weekend is over, I'd greatly appreciate it!

Attached are both the email I sent to them regarding my turn of events and the letter that I received in the post today.

Thank you for reading!
 

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Gloster

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Up the creek
You will get a lot of advice from experts on this forum, but it may take a day or two as not everybody looks at the forum every day, particularly at weekends. I am (most definitely) not one of the experts, but it does seem that you have provided all the information they need (unlike many posters), but have a check a few times during the day for any queries they might have. They will guide you as to the best way to proceed. And do not worry.
 
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Tazi Hupefi

Member
Joined
1 Apr 2018
Messages
595
Location
Nottinghamshire
Ok... so I'm a little stumped, on Wednesday the 14th of April 2021 I travelled from Bolton to Manchester Piccadilly (3 stops) £4.70 ticket price, but I, without knowing that my Railcard had expired bought the ticket with my Railcard active, I didn't know the card had expired as it was the first time that I had travelled since August 9th 2020 and it was a 3 year card, I only noticed it had expired once a member of staff at Manchester Piccadilly asked to see my Railcard, where I proceeded to open the app only to find out that it had expired 12 DAYS PRIOR, I have had a Railcard for years now and have never had an issue on any train service so I assumed I'd be able to just pay the difference/buy a new ticket... Boy was I wrong, the member of staff proceeded to lecture me and I was kind of bereft as I explained that I hadn't travelled, and even showed her my Trainline account and Bank statements to show her that, after I said I'd pay for a new ticket, she said ''That won't be necessary sir'' then proceeded to ask for my name, address and behold, I got a letter from DRPU (Debt Recovery and Prosecutions Unit) saying that I had to explain my side of the story, I proceeded to email them explaining the whole situation and told them that it was a genuine mistake and due to the current circumstances, especially due to my Railcard only being expired for under 2 weeks, I hoped that we'd be able to come to some sort of reasonable conclusion. 4 days passed and today I received a 'FIXED PENALTY NOTICE' telling me that I had 14 days to pay £94.70 or else I'd be taken to court, the reasoning being and I quote 'You Travelled from Bolton to Manchester Piccadilly without paying the full fare and with the intent of avoiding that fare'???? I'm sorry but I specified in both person and the emails that it was a mistake and that I was more than happy to pay for a new ticket/pay the difference, I'm not wanting to go through all of this over £1.40... This whole situation has kind of caught me off guard, if anybody could give me any help as I'm looking to possibly appeal this after this Bank Holiday weekend is over, I'd greatly appreciate it!

Attached are both the email I sent to them regarding my turn of events and the letter that I received in the post today.

Thank you for reading!
Mistake or not, you commit a criminal offence in these circumstances. It doesn't matter whether it's a one off, 5p or £50. Bit like speeding in a car, and a camera van catching you. "I don't normally speed" or "it's only 5mph over" etc... It makes no difference, you'll still get the £100 fixed penalty and 3 points!

£94.70 is "cheap" compared to some other operators so I suggest you pay it as soon as possible. The fact they've offered you this option suggests they've took your circumstances info account, and believe you can be dealt with without the need to attend court. However, they will have incurred some administrative costs dealing with your mistake, and there does need to be some level of deterrent to make sure you "correct your behaviour", i.e. education.

If you don't, you'll be found guilty at a Magistrates Court, and probably end up with a conviction and not much change out of £500. It doesn't sound like you have any defence in law. Train operators don't bluff either, you'll be simply taken to court with hundreds of others.

I know you won't like it, but pay up, learn from it, and don't stress it. No point getting yourself too worked up, but you can't change the outcome in your favour.
 

scrapy

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1,641
Unfortunately I don't think that you have any grounds for appeal and I am not sure that you can appeal this other than taking your chance in court and I'd strongly advise against that, this is a sure win for Northern. They do not need to prove any intent on your part just satisfy the court that the offence took place. As the previous poster has said it makes no difference to the verdict whether or not it will as a mistake. If the court believes it was a mistake the penalty handed out may be lower (around £300 including costs and surcharges) but I'd budget for 3 to 5 hundred pounds if you go to court.

It is YOUR responsibility whenever you travel with a Railcard discounted ticket that the Railcard is in date. The ticket is only valid with the Railcard so effectively without a Railcard you are travelling without a ticket and will be dealt with as such.

Northern operate a penalty fares scheme where you may have been offered a £20 penalty at the time but that is not guaranteed and solely at their discretion. It could be worth asking why this wasn't offered and offer to pay that but they don't have to give you a reason and if they don't allow this I'd definitely make sure you pay the £94.70 before the due date. If you can't, for example you don't get paid before then then contact them well before the date and ask for a short extension.
 
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Haywain

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6,680
In short, forget all your righteous indignation and pay the £94.70 because you are not going to get a better offer. You committed an offence, albeit unknowingly, and the intent to avoid paying the full fare is proved by your actions not by your thoughts or words. You would almost certainly be found guilty in court.
 

Vespa

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820
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Merseyside
£94.70p does seem quite reasonable in the circumstances, it is your responsibility to check the validity of your railcard before buying a ticket or pay full fare instead.
 

221129

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They do not need to prove any intent on your part just satisfy the court that the offence took place. As the previous poster has said it makes no difference to the verdict whether or not it will as a mistake. If the court believes it was a mistake the penalty handed out may be lower (around £300 including costs and surcharges) but I'd budget for 3 to 5 hundred pounds if you go to court.
It depends what the offence is that they pursue, however travelling with an out of date railcard is often accepted by the court as intent to avoid the fare due.
 

skyhigh

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As others have said, it's your responsibility to check that your railcard is valid. If you only had to pay the difference when stopped without a valid railcard, what's to stop everyone only paying the correct fare when challenged?

You said in your email you'd pay what's necessary to resolve the situation. This is the cost of resolving your mistake.

Also, this isn't a penalty fare, so there's no appeals process. This is essentially a settlement to stop it going to court. You can negotiate with the company, but they're fully entitled to withdraw the offer and proceed to court.
 

LowLevel

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5,513
As a ticket inspector perhaps surprisingly I have some sympathy with the OP. There are quite a lot of expired railcards floating about at the minute with people returning to the rails after a long break.

Personally I choose to welcome them back when I come across them and invite them to renew their card there and then, particularly if they're using the app. Others see the misuse as intentional and in some cases I'm sure they're right but these Northern fake "fixed penalties" go against everything I want to see in my industry.

Cards that expired months ago are one thing, less than a fortnight is easily an oversight and there is every chance that if the person who came across the OP was a TOC employed conductor or revenue inspector rather than a Northern contractor the matter would have played out very differently.

It doesn't change the facts of the situation, which basically are what they are, but I absolutely do have sympathy with the OP.
 
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Hadders

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Welcome to the forum!

This is an unfortunate incident but the fact is you travelled without a valid ticket which is a criminal offence and making a mistake isn't a defense. I would pay the £94.70 to make the matter go away and chalk it up to experience. You don't want this escalating to the magistrates court as it would end up costing more in both money, stress and hassle
 

Cdd89

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853
Cards that expired months ago are one thing, less than a fortnight is easily an oversight
The problem is there is no way to distinguish the genuine errors from those who like to squeeze an extra month out of their railcard in the knowledge that they are rarely asked for and it can be played off as a genuine mistake (not that I expect the OP of this). I don’t think there is a solution to this with the current system.

In the circumstances prosecution seems harsh for though, a recent railcard expiry seems like the textbook example of a penalty fare rather than referring to prosecution (assuming no previous). Not that this changes the fact that it’s gone this route now and the OP should agree to the settlement.
 

robbeech

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11 Nov 2015
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Any methods* used to ensure better treatment of genuine errors will result in people deliberately trying it on receiving less harsh penalties as well. Essentially, being fair on passengers making a genuine mistake will reduce revenue, this isn't something an operator is going to favour so you'll be left with discretion of the staff involved. If this is a guard they are more likely to take the pay the difference or new full price ticket approach, but dedicated revenue staff are employed solely to cut down on fare evasion, which this is.


*The only thing i could think might be useable would be if a railcard had expired, they would be able to purchase a new one there and then but it MUST run consecutive to the old one, with perhaps a 3 month limit, so if the card ran out 2 months ago they must buy a new one which will have a start date the day after the old one expired, and if it ran out 3 months prior then they treat it as no ticket as they do now. It would require the railcard process to be amended to allow this.
It's not a flawless idea of course, as no doubt the following comments will explain in detail.
 

glzckjord

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The problem is there is no way to distinguish the genuine errors from those who like to squeeze an extra month out of their railcard in the knowledge that they are rarely asked for and it can be played off as a genuine mistake (not that I expect the OP of this). I don’t think there is a solution to this with the current system.

In the circumstances prosecution seems harsh for though, a recent railcard expiry seems like the textbook example of a penalty fare rather than referring to prosecution (assuming no previous). Not that this changes the fact that it’s gone this route now and the OP should agree to the settlement.
I was genuinely unaware that my Railcard had expired as it was the first time I'd been on a train since August 2020, although I do agree with your point and yeah, no previous! I've read a lof of these replies and spoken to a few people in the station today and I've just come to the conclusion that the member of staff was being a jobsworth and I'm just going to pay it on Tuesday as I don't think it's worth the hassle!

Any methods* used to ensure better treatment of genuine errors will result in people deliberately trying it on receiving less harsh penalties as well. Essentially, being fair on passengers making a genuine mistake will reduce revenue, this isn't something an operator is going to favour so you'll be left with discretion of the staff involved. If this is a guard they are more likely to take the pay the difference or new full price ticket approach, but dedicated revenue staff are employed solely to cut down on fare evasion, which this is.


*The only thing i could think might be useable would be if a railcard had expired, they would be able to purchase a new one there and then but it MUST run consecutive to the old one, with perhaps a 3 month limit, so if the card ran out 2 months ago they must buy a new one which will have a start date the day after the old one expired, and if it ran out 3 months prior then they treat it as no ticket as they do now. It would require the railcard process to be amended to allow this.
It's not a flawless idea of course, as no doubt the following comments will explain in detail.
Thank you for your reply! I agree!

Welcome to the forum!

This is an unfortunate incident but the fact is you travelled without a valid ticket which is a criminal offence and making a mistake isn't a defense. I would pay the £94.70 to make the matter go away and chalk it up to experience. You don't want this escalating to the magistrates court as it would end up costing more in both money, stress and hassle
I've decided that I'm just going to pay the required amount on Tuesday and just leave it there, it's not worth the hassle! (I also renewed my Railcard today before I travelled into Manchester and I wasn't even asked to show it once my ticket was scanned)

As a ticket inspector perhaps surprisingly I have some sympathy with the OP. There are quite a lot of expired railcards floating about at the minute with people returning to the rails after a long break.

Personally I choose to welcome them back when I come across them and invite them to renew their card there and then, particularly if they're using the app. Others see the misuse as intentional and in some cases I'm sure they're right but these Northern fake "fixed penalties" go against everything I want to see in my industry.

Cards that expired months ago are one thing, less than a fortnight is easily an oversight and there is every chance that if the person who came across the OP was a TOC employed conductor or revenue inspector rather than a Northern contractor the matter would have played out very differently.

It doesn't change the facts of the situation, which basically are what they are, but I absolutely do have sympathy with the OP.
I appreciate this reply! I spoke with another inspector at Piccadilly station this morning and she said the exact same thing, she said it was a revenue inspector that did it, she was on shift when I was there and proceeded to call her a 'jobsworth' and to just make sure in future that my Railcard is valid so avoid the situation again. (side note, she also said that personally, she would've asked for either the difference; or the full price of another ticket) £90 for me, for a £1.40 price difference seemed a bit extreme but apparently not according to some replies!

As others have said, it's your responsibility to check that your railcard is valid. If you only had to pay the difference when stopped without a valid railcard, what's to stop everyone only paying the correct fare when challenged?

You said in your email you'd pay what's necessary to resolve the situation. This is the cost of resolving your mistake.

Also, this isn't a penalty fare, so there's no appeals process. This is essentially a settlement to stop it going to court. You can negotiate with the company, but they're fully entitled to withdraw the offer and proceed to court.
Thanks for your reply, I've come to the conclusion that I'm just going to put this down as a genuine mistake, pay the required amount then make sure it never happens again!

£94.70p does seem quite reasonable in the circumstances, it is your responsibility to check the validity of your railcard before buying a ticket or pay full fare instead.
Thanks for your reply!

In short, forget all your righteous indignation and pay the £94.70 because you are not going to get a better offer. You committed an offence, albeit unknowingly, and the intent to avoid paying the full fare is proved by your actions not by your thoughts or words. You would almost certainly be found guilty in court.
Thanks for your reply, I've taken your advice into consideration and decided that it's best for me to just pay the sum and leave it as it is because it's not worth the hassle if legal action were to be taken!

Unfortunately I don't think that you have any grounds for appeal and I am not sure that you can appeal this other than taking your chance in court and I'd strongly advise against that, this is a sure win for Northern. They do not need to prove any intent on your part just satisfy the court that the offence took place. As the previous poster has said it makes no difference to the verdict whether or not it will as a mistake. If the court believes it was a mistake the penalty handed out may be lower (around £300 including costs and surcharges) but I'd budget for 3 to 5 hundred pounds if you go to court.

It is YOUR responsibility whenever you travel with a Railcard discounted ticket that the Railcard is in date. The ticket is only valid with the Railcard so effectively without a Railcard you are travelling without a ticket and will be dealt with as such.

Northern operate a penalty fares scheme where you may have been offered a £20 penalty at the time but that is not guaranteed and solely at their discretion. It could be worth asking why this wasn't offered and offer to pay that but they don't have to give you a reason and if they don't allow this I'd definitely make sure you pay the £94.70 before the due date. If you can't, for example you don't get paid before then then contact them well before the date and ask for a short extension.
I appreciate your reply! I've decided that it's just not worth risking them taking legal action as you pointed out, there's no guarantee I'll even stand a chance against them, I'm going to pay the sum on Tuesday and chalk this down as an honest mistake!

Mistake or not, you commit a criminal offence in these circumstances. It doesn't matter whether it's a one off, 5p or £50. Bit like speeding in a car, and a camera van catching you. "I don't normally speed" or "it's only 5mph over" etc... It makes no difference, you'll still get the £100 fixed penalty and 3 points!

£94.70 is "cheap" compared to some other operators so I suggest you pay it as soon as possible. The fact they've offered you this option suggests they've took your circumstances info account, and believe you can be dealt with without the need to attend court. However, they will have incurred some administrative costs dealing with your mistake, and there does need to be some level of deterrent to make sure you "correct your behaviour", i.e. education.

If you don't, you'll be found guilty at a Magistrates Court, and probably end up with a conviction and not much change out of £500. It doesn't sound like you have any defence in law. Train operators don't bluff either, you'll be simply taken to court with hundreds of others.

I know you won't like it, but pay up, learn from it, and don't stress it. No point getting yourself too worked up, but you can't change the outcome in your favour.
Thank you for your reply!

You will get a lot of advice from experts on this forum, but it may take a day or two as not everybody looks at the forum every day, particularly at weekends. I am (most definitely) not one of the experts, but it does seem that you have provided all the information they need (unlike many posters), but have a check a few times during the day for any queries they might have. They will guide you as to the best way to proceed. And do not worry.
ahah thanks for the reply nonetheless, I think I've got what I came here for! I'm glad that I provided what was necessary as that was a worry I had coming into this!
 
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Flange Squeal

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718
I've just come to the conclusion that the member of staff was being a jobsworth
This is perhaps a bit unfair. A revenue inspector's job is to deal with people travelling without a valid ticket. You were travelling without a valid ticket, so you were dealt with. Simple. That said, I completely appreciate that your case was not outright intentional fare evasion as you bought a ticket for the journey you were making, so clearly weren't trying to avoid payment altogether. But you (presumably) wouldn't expect to be allowed on an aeroplane with a flight ticket but out of date passport, so shouldn't really expect no comeback when travelling on a train with a ticket but out of date pass. Going forward, it may be an idea to regularly check your Railcard expiry date before using it, particularly after a period of no use - just like you would before using your passport (if you have one and travel abroad). I only say this because it's possible that a future mistake may not get dealt with in the same manner, if deemed a repeat offence.

It may also be worth having a quick recap over the terms and conditions that you agreed to when purchasing the railcard. These can be found on the https://www.railcard.co.uk website, clicking the type of Railcard you have, then 'Railcard terms and conditions' at the bottom, or in the 'Help' section. A common section across them is (my bold): "2.8. You must carry your valid Railcard with you on your journey. When asked by rail staff, you must show a valid ticket and valid Railcard within its period of validity when you travel."
 

WesternLancer

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12 Apr 2019
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As a ticket inspector perhaps surprisingly I have some sympathy with the OP. There are quite a lot of expired railcards floating about at the minute with people returning to the rails after a long break.

Personally I choose to welcome them back when I come across them and invite them to renew their card there and then, particularly if they're using the app. Others see the misuse as intentional and in some cases I'm sure they're right but these Northern fake "fixed penalties" go against everything I want to see in my industry.

Cards that expired months ago are one thing, less than a fortnight is easily an oversight and there is every chance that if the person who came across the OP was a TOC employed conductor or revenue inspector rather than a Northern contractor the matter would have played out very differently.

It doesn't change the facts of the situation, which basically are what they are, but I absolutely do have sympathy with the OP.
I can't recall what the situation is - esp with app based Railcard's - (I have a paper one, easy to see it is in date when I check I have it on me, but obv paper has downsides too,) - but during COVID did National Railcard office stop sending out e-mail reminders to people that their railcards were due to expire? If so that hardly helps people like the OP.

IIRC pre covid you might get as many as 2 e-mail reminders / invitations to renew, but I didn't get anything when my railcard expired in Oct 2020 AFAIK.
 

jamiearmley

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Joined
25 Jun 2017
Messages
50
This is perhaps a bit unfair. A revenue inspector's job is to deal with people travelling without a valid ticket. You were travelling without a valid ticket, so you were dealt with. Simple. That said, I completely appreciate that your case was not outright intentional fare evasion as you bought a ticket for the journey you were making, so clearly weren't trying to avoid payment altogether. But you (presumably) wouldn't expect to be allowed on an aeroplane with a flight ticket but out of date passport, so shouldn't really expect no comeback when travelling on a train with a ticket but out of date pass. Going forward, it may be an idea to regularly check your Railcard expiry date before using it, particularly after a period of no use - just like you would before using your passport (if you have one and travel abroad). I only say this because it's possible that a future mistake may not get dealt with in the same manner, if deemed a repeat offence.

It may also be worth having a quick recap over the terms and conditions that you agreed to when purchasing the railcard. These can be found on the https://www.railcard.co.uk website, clicking the type of Railcard you have, then 'Railcard terms and conditions' at the bottom, or in the 'Help' section. A common section across them is (my bold): "2.8. You must carry your valid Railcard with you on your journey. When asked by rail staff, you must show a valid ticket and valid Railcard within its period of validity when you travel."
It's also possible that the people spoken to by the OP took a conciliatory attitude to avoid potential conflict. This would be understandable, and could include but not be limited to statements about how they might have dealt with it in a different way.

Calling a colleague "jobsworth" is an easy way to show empathy and diffuse any argument : it's difficult to argue or conflict with someone who demonstrates they are "on your side". In a industry where staff are often subject to verbal and physical abuse, such an approach is understandable.

I understand why the OP went and spoke to other rail staff : I would probably do the same. However, anything other rail staff said should be viewed in context : the OP had been already "dealt with", and therefore a "least resistance" approach would be a sensible option.
 

Flange Squeal

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It's also possible that the people spoken to by the OP took a conciliatory attitude to avoid potential conflict. This would be understandable, and could include but not be limited to statements about how they might have dealt with it in a different way.

Calling a colleague "jobsworth" is an easy way to show empathy and diffuse any argument : it's difficult to argue or conflict with someone who demonstrates they are "on your side". In a industry where staff are often subject to verbal and physical abuse, such an approach is understandable.

I understand why the OP went and spoke to other rail staff : I would probably do the same. However, anything other rail staff said should be viewed in context : the OP had been already "dealt with", and therefore a "least resistance" approach would be a sensible option.
I totally get what you are saying here. The quote in my post was of the OP saying they are putting the event down to the staff member that dealt with them being a "jobsworth", rather than accepting that the only reason this whole event occurred was because they were travelling with an invalid ticket. I made no reference to the later incident where the OP mentions talking to another member of staff who used the phrase, as whether it is the other member of staff's real belief or as you describe, it is ultimately irrelevant to the original base ticketing issue of the OP.
 

Starmill

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My advice would be to pay the bill, and subsequently write to your MP lobbying them to support decrimalisation of railway fare matters. This would remove the options for train companies to prosecute for offences under the Railway Byelaw 18, or for an attempt to avoid paying the fare due.

Train companies could then charge Penalty Fares as applicable, or issue notices of unpaid debts and pursue those through the normal channels, or alternatively bring charges for fraud. In the same way as almost any other business trading with the general public.

The company are able to use the current law to make money from you by threatening you with a criminal charge. Clearly this isn't the intention of these laws, so they're badly broken and we may make the case for amending them. The bill in this case is vastly disproportionate. In my view the only available penalty open to the company here should be to charge for a new ticket. However a well structured penalty fares regime could be tolerable.
 

Tazi Hupefi

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My advice would be to pay the bill, and subsequently write to your MP lobbying them to support decrimalisation of railway fare matters. This would remove the options for train companies to prosecute for offences under the Railway Byelaw 18, or for an attempt to avoid paying the fare due.

Train companies could then charge Penalty Fares as applicable, or issue notices of unpaid debts and pursue those through the normal channels, or alternatively bring charges for fraud. In the same way as almost any other business trading with the general public.

The company are able to use the current law to make money from you by threatening you with a criminal charge. Clearly this isn't the intention of these laws, so they're badly broken and we may make the case for amending them. The bill in this case is vastly disproportionate. In my view the only available penalty open to the company here should be to charge for a new ticket. However a well structured penalty fares regime could be tolerable.
Your post appears a little contradictory in my view. You want the railway offences decriminalised, but at the same time appear to be against Northern trying to ensure that the matter isn't criminalised and settled via a civil disposal such as this. The TOC could sue the passenger instead, which they'd likely win. They would be allowed to add fixed costs usually of up to around £80, plus the hearing fee, around £100, plus their travel costs etc. They are better off with the fixed penalty! In fact the TOC could arguably do better taking this approach, except for the fact that it's harder and more costly to enforce the Order, and you lose the deterrent factor from a criminal offence, although a CCJ can be damaging.

Civil (private) car parking notices, which can be issued in similar circumstances, e.g. overstaying a paid parking session, which contrary to popular belief, are actually enforceable if the proper process is followed, are often around £100-£150 and the civil courts have ruled that such an amount is, or can be reasonable, and is the biggest cause of CCJs in England and Wales as a result. That's before they add on the court fees too!

Some very strange perceptions of our justice system on this forum I have to admit. £90 in the eyes of the judiciary, our government and anyone with any real decision making ability is an insignificant amount of money.
 
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Starmill

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Civil (private) car parking notices, which can be issued in similar circumstances, e.g. overstaying a paid parking session, which contrary to popular belief, are actually enforceable if the proper process is followed, are often around £100-£150 and the civil courts have ruled that such an amount is, or can be reasonable, and is the biggest cause of CCJs in England and Wales as a result. That's before they add on the court fees too!
I agree that the way parking enforcement is done follows astonishingly poor practice, despite multiple attempts to "clean up" the industry of private parking. It's not a model I would copy. I note that my proposals appear to work effectively in Scotland, where there are no Penalty Fares and next to no criminal prosecutions for fare evasion.
Your post appears a little contradictory in my view. You want the railway offences decriminalised, but at the same time appear to be against Northern trying to ensure that the matter isn't criminalised and settled via a civil disposal such as this.
It's actually fairly simple: I disagree with anyone having a criminal conviction for the two offences mentioned, and I also disagree with the use of those offences in a way which seeks to extract enormously disproportionate 'penalties' from people. Not only do I believe this is bad for consumers but it also isn't very good for society, because it encourages very weak revenue protection where one person paying a settlement earns the company as much as 15 - 20 honest travellers paying their correct fare.
 

Tazi Hupefi

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1 Apr 2018
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I agree that the way parking enforcement is done follows astonishingly poor practice, despite multiple attempts to "clean up" the industry of private parking. It's not a model I would copy. I note that my proposals appear to work effectively in Scotland, where there are no Penalty Fares and next to no criminal prosecutions for fare evasion.

It's actually fairly simple: I disagree with anyone having a criminal conviction for the two offences mentioned, and I also disagree with the use of those offences in a way which seeks to extract enormously disproportionate 'penalties' from people. Not only do I believe this is bad for consumers but it also isn't very good for society, because it encourages very weak revenue protection where one person paying a settlement earns the company as much as 15 - 20 honest travellers paying their correct fare.

I'm not saying your wrong to have those views, or that it's not unfair to most people, it's just a fairytale to believe that situation can ever really be satisfactorly changed. It matters not whether you end up facing civil or criminal action, as I've said on the other thread around fraud, once you're in the system as a defendant/respondent, you've already lost.

Simply decriminalising these offences could even make it worse, as it would then leave the car park cowboy recovery methodology as the most likely means of enforcement. For most people, a non recordable Byelaw conviction will be better than a 6 year CCJ!
 

Starmill

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I'm not saying your wrong to have those views, or that it's not unfair to most people, it's just a fairytale to believe that situation can ever really be satisfactorly changed. It matters not whether you end up facing civil or criminal action, as I've said on the other thread around fraud, once you're in the system as a defendant/respondent, you've already lost.

Simply decriminalising these offences could even make it worse, as it would then leave the car park cowboy recovery methodology as the most likely means of enforcement. For most people, a non recordable Byelaw conviction will be better than a 6 year CCJ!
You wouldn't have a judgement against you though, because the bill due would be £4.70 in this case, and you'd pay it.

Thank you for your other views but I'd guess that if you'd like to investigate that in any detail a new thread would be appropriate.
 

Qwerty133

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As a ticket inspector perhaps surprisingly I have some sympathy with the OP. There are quite a lot of expired railcards floating about at the minute with people returning to the rails after a long break.

Personally I choose to welcome them back when I come across them and invite them to renew their card there and then, particularly if they're using the app. Others see the misuse as intentional and in some cases I'm sure they're right but these Northern fake "fixed penalties" go against everything I want to see in my industry.

Cards that expired months ago are one thing, less than a fortnight is easily an oversight and there is every chance that if the person who came across the OP was a TOC employed conductor or revenue inspector rather than a Northern contractor the matter would have played out very differently.

It doesn't change the facts of the situation, which basically are what they are, but I absolutely do have sympathy with the OP.
Whilst such an approach should be encouraged, in my experience the railway needs to reduce the amount of discretion (as in staff should be told to behave in such a manner towards all travellers with an out of date railcard or to never behave in such a way) available to front line staff in such circumstances as it has lead to similar situations having very difference outcomes broadly in correlation with the protected characteristics of the travellers involved which is clearly not an acceptable way for things to be handled. Unfortunately the railway employs too many individuals who are unable to detach their biases from their work leading to a situation in which younger travellers and those from non-white and working class backgrounds are much more likely to end up prosecuted or with a penalty fare than elder and middle class travellers who have made the same mistakes.
 

glzckjord

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This is perhaps a bit unfair. A revenue inspector's job is to deal with people travelling without a valid ticket. You were travelling without a valid ticket, so you were dealt with. Simple. That said, I completely appreciate that your case was not outright intentional fare evasion as you bought a ticket for the journey you were making, so clearly weren't trying to avoid payment altogether. But you (presumably) wouldn't expect to be allowed on an aeroplane with a flight ticket but out of date passport, so shouldn't really expect no comeback when travelling on a train with a ticket but out of date pass. Going forward, it may be an idea to regularly check your Railcard expiry date before using it, particularly after a period of no use - just like you would before using your passport (if you have one and travel abroad). I only say this because it's possible that a future mistake may not get dealt with in the same manner, if deemed a repeat offence.

It may also be worth having a quick recap over the terms and conditions that you agreed to when purchasing the railcard. These can be found on the https://www.railcard.co.uk website, clicking the type of Railcard you have, then 'Railcard terms and conditions' at the bottom, or in the 'Help' section. A common section across them is (my bold): "2.8. You must carry your valid Railcard with you on your journey. When asked by rail staff, you must show a valid ticket and valid Railcard within its period of validity when you travel."
I feel, as I experienced the situation first hand that calling said staff member a 'jobsworth' was completely just.
 

glzckjord

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I can't recall what the situation is - esp with app based Railcard's - (I have a paper one, easy to see it is in date when I check I have it on me, but obv paper has downsides too,) - but during COVID did National Railcard office stop sending out e-mail reminders to people that their railcards were due to expire? If so that hardly helps people like the OP.

IIRC pre covid you might get as many as 2 e-mail reminders / invitations to renew, but I didn't get anything when my railcard expired in Oct 2020 AFAIK.
My Railcard is digital, I also received 0 reminders that it was set to expire

My advice would be to pay the bill, and subsequently write to your MP lobbying them to support decrimalisation of railway fare matters. This would remove the options for train companies to prosecute for offences under the Railway Byelaw 18, or for an attempt to avoid paying the fare due.

Train companies could then charge Penalty Fares as applicable, or issue notices of unpaid debts and pursue those through the normal channels, or alternatively bring charges for fraud. In the same way as almost any other business trading with the general public.

The company are able to use the current law to make money from you by threatening you with a criminal charge. Clearly this isn't the intention of these laws, so they're badly broken and we may make the case for amending them. The bill in this case is vastly disproportionate. In my view the only available penalty open to the company here should be to charge for a new ticket. However a well structured penalty fares regime could be tolerable.
I'm already looking into this, thank you for your input! As stated above, I'll be paying this over the phone once the bank holiday weekend has concluded.
 

Watershed

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They would be allowed to add fixed costs usually of up to around £80
They wouldn't just be allowed to randomly add on £80. Of course, if fare evasion etc. were decriminalised, the NRCoT might be changed to provide for fixed costs or a "standard fare", but that would have to be carefully drafted and applied to be enforceable.

plus the hearing fee, around £100
The combined cost of the claim and hearing fee is £50, for a money claim of up to £300. Of course, a fair percentage of defendants would pay up as soon as they received the claim form, and would thus only be liable for the claim fee of £25.

Civil (private) car parking notices, which can be issued in similar circumstances, e.g. overstaying a paid parking session, which contrary to popular belief, are actually enforceable if the proper process is followed, are often around £100-£150 and the civil courts have ruled that such an amount is, or can be reasonable, and is the biggest cause of CCJs in England and Wales as a result. That's before they add on the court fees too!
The maximum recoverable amount is £100 plus interest and court fees. This is the limit set by the parking industry associations' guidelines, which are de facto law - as the DVLA only releases registered keeper details under the condition that such guidelines are adhered to.

For most people, a non recordable Byelaw conviction will be better than a 6 year CCJ!
I'm not so sure. Any conviction will typically prevent you from gaining visa-free access to countries such as the US and Australia.
 

Starmill

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I'm not so sure. Any conviction will typically prevent you from gaining visa-free access to countries such as the US and Australia.
Exactly. Plus the fact that my proposal would mean almost everyone would pay for a new ticket, at most, or a fee for the money claim if they were really slow, and therefore not have any judgements against them.

Some very strange perceptions of our justice system on this forum I have to admit. £90 in the eyes of the judiciary, our government and anyone with any real decision making ability is an insignificant amount of money.
In my view this is not true at all. However again I'd suggest that if you'd like to explore that further creating a new thread is the best way forward.
 

WesternLancer

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. £90 in the eyes of the judiciary, our government and anyone with any real decision making ability is an insignificant amount of money.
Whilst a fair point, none of those people would be considered in general to be err, skint, of course....
For them not that many hours of work say compared to minimum wage to earn £90
 

Starmill

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Whilst a fair point, none of those people would be considered in general to be err, skint, of course....
For them not that many hours of work say compared to minimum wage to earn £90
Indeed. As much as ten hours worth of pay, or even slightly more, for the simple mistake of forgetting your railcard is crackers. The penalty is already that you've paid for a useless ticket which cannot be refunded without a £10 fee, or at all if it is of the non-refundable type.
 

reb0118

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I note that my proposals appear to work effectively in Scotland, where there are no Penalty Fares and next to no criminal prosecutions for fare evasion.

On certain routes in Scotland it is highly unusual to find passengers with tickets let alone valid tickets. Fare evasion is absolutely rife in parts of Scotland and there seems to be no effective deterrent.

Unless you travel on a long distance train or are travelling to/from a barriered station there is little incentive to hold a ticket.

However we digress and if you want to start a new thread I'll did up some anecdotal evidence.
 
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