Failure to Pay - Northern Rail

Discussion in 'Disputes & Prosecutions' started by ashtone25, 27 Aug 2015.

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  1. ashtone25

    ashtone25 New Member

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    Hello,

    I'm worrying myself to death about this and was hoping someone could tell me what is likely to happen.

    On two occasions within a week I was stopped by Northern Rail staff without having a valid ticket for my journey. On both occasions, this was because there is no ticket machine at my local station (Swinton) and the ticket office was closed at the time. On the first day, I got off the train at Walkden and a man took my details and said as I had no opportunity to by a ticket I would simply get a letter asking for the fare. This happened and I paid the fare over the phone on the same day I received the letter.

    On the second occasion I was travelling to Manchester Victoria and the same thing happened. There are two ways to exit the station at Victoria, and as far as I knew you could buy a ticket at either exit as I have done in the past. However, on this occasion there was no option to buy a ticket and instead my details were taken by someone who questioned why I had left the station without purchasing a ticket. I explained that I usually either have a monthly pass or buy my ticket at Swinton, and that I thought I would be able to buy one at the exit but was told that technically I had left the station without paying. The man said I would get a letter within 4 weeks asking for a statement, but 4 weeks on and nothing has arrived. I am worried sick that because of 2 incidents being so close together, I won't even be offered the £80 fine and will be taken straight to court. Can anyone advise as to what might happen and whether I should get in touch with them to chase up the letter?

    I am happy to pay the £80 fixed penalty as I admit that I did leave the station without paying due to my own stupidity!
     
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  3. 34D

    34D Established Member

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    The first incident isn't an 'incident' at all, in my view.

    The second is more problematic. If you can describe the exit concerned, others may be able to advise whether staff selling there is routine or not.

    If not, then there is an issue
     
  4. ashtone25

    ashtone25 New Member

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    I'm hoping that Northern Rail will also see it that way and discount the first "offence" because I genuinely had no option to buy a ticket before I reached the station.

    The exit I used is connected to other businesses within the station and can be accessed without having to pass through a ticket barrier - I am assuming that in the past when I have bought a ticket from there it was just a one-off that someone happened to be there with a mobile ticket machine. I can completely understand why the man taking my details would think I was trying to just walk out without paying, and if I'd thought about it I should have just headed straight for the main ticket office when I got there.

    I did explain to him that I don't usually travel without a ticket, as usually when I use the train it is for work (on a different route) and I have a monthly pass so I don't have to think about where I'm going to buy a ticket. He wrote down a note about that so it might work in my favour if they can check records and see that I pay for a pass every month for my usual route?

    I don't think I have a chance of getting it written off, but I'd like to avoid court and just pay the penalty to make it go away! I called the prosecutions department today and they said they haven't even received a report about it yet, so no case is currently open.
     
  5. Islineclear3_1

    Islineclear3_1 Established Member

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    If there was no facility to buy a ticket at Swinton and you clearly stated this, and your intention to buy a ticket at Victoria, then surely the TOC hasn't got a leg to stand on...?

    Was there a reason why you didn't have a monthly season at the time?
     
  6. najaB

    najaB Veteran Member

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    Not if the OP was stopped heading towards an exit and away from a ticket office/machine.
     
  7. 30907

    30907 Established Member

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    I am only aware of two unbarriered exits at Vic. One (the one off the overbridge, leading to the MEN Arena also) was clearly signed as an emergency exit last time I was there. The other is at the West end of P3. Neither fits the OP's description exactly, but I am sure s/he can clarify.
     
  8. DaveNewcastle

    DaveNewcastle Established Member Fares Advisor

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    If I'm reading the OP's post correctly, then I really wouldn't want her/him to provide that clarification on this very public forum.

    I agree with 34D that it is less likely that the Company will consider this matter is appropriate for Criminal prosecution, but cannot agree with robert7111a that "If there was no facility to buy a ticket at Swinton and you clearly stated this, and your intention to buy a ticket at Victoria, then surely the TOC hasn't got a leg to stand on" if you had in fact failed to approach any of the ticket selling opportunities available before chosing to leave by an exit which is most usually unstaffed.

    I would expect that the incident will be considered as a 'marginal' attempt at evasion and that an administrative settlement is likely to be offered which you could accept in the event that you don't feel inclined to challenge a prosecution in law for fare evasion. In the event that you did wish to decline that settlement, then I have to tell you that the Company does have at least one "leg to stand on", and that is to be found in Corbyn v Saunders [1978].
     
  9. fergusjbend

    fergusjbend Member

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    Should not all TOCs be obliged by franchise conditions to provide working ticket machines at all stations?
     
  10. najaB

    najaB Veteran Member

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    Only if they want to operate a Penalty Fares scheme.
     
  11. bb21

    bb21 Forum Staff Staff Member Global Moderator

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    No, quite simply.

    Even in Penalty Fare areas, a Permit to Travel machine may be installed instead of a ticket machine.
     
  12. Bletchleyite

    Bletchleyite Veteran Member

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    It would perhaps be more useful if they placed ticket machines allowing purchase of a ticket *from* somewhere else at these unstaffed exits. I can entirely see why it is a common view that, when travelling from an unstaffed station, if the railway can't be bothered to collect the fare before or during the journey, there is no reason why the passenger should waste time queueing to pay it at the end.

    That clearly isn't legally the case, but it is in an awful lot of peoples' mindsets.
     
  13. WestCoast

    WestCoast Established Member

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    I agree. In my humble opinion, if Northern can't employ resources to offer the opportunity to purchase a ticket either at the origin station, onboard or quickly at (all) exits of the station, then they have no business harassing people in this way. Perhaps these RPIs would be better employed actually selling tickets before the customer reaches their destination in the first place. Sorry, but that's just how I see it.

    It's not a North vs South thing either. Things are much clearer on the Metrolink, easy to use ticket machines accepting cash and cards at every stop. 99.9% of the time it's easy to obtain a ticket and everyone knows they must have one before boarding. Their staff can then chase the real fare evaders and troublemakers. I can't blame TfGM for wanting to convert lines into Metrolink when they employ such a simple, clear and consistent approach. :oops:
     
    Last edited: 28 Aug 2015
  14. Llanigraham

    Llanigraham On Moderation

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    No.
    Do you realise how many small rural stations there are in the UK?
    How would you provide security for these machines?

    Totally impractical.
     
  15. WestCoast

    WestCoast Established Member

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    Useless fact: every mainline rail station in Switzerland, no matter how rural and/or lightly used it is, has a ticket machine.<D

    However, no facilities at the station and buying onboard makes sense at a lot of stations in this country. Lots of rural and quiet ATW, Northern, FGW and Scotrail stations seem to fit this category.

    Urban commuter stations in Greater Manchester in my opinion don't. I recently had to travel East Didsbury to Manchester Airport on a Saturday afternoon. This line has a pretty frequent service as far as I know. No open ticket office or machine that I could find, indeed nothing on the platform I boarded. Guard did not come to sell/inspect tickets. Did I queue to pay at the TPE Manchester Airport ticket office? Yes, but only because I needed to buy a return. If I was rushing for a flight, I wouldn't put myself out.

    Ticket machines cost a lot to install, secure and maintain, I understand that, but they should be seen as a necessity at a lot of GM stations with a decent level of service. If Metrolink can manage it...
     
    Last edited: 28 Aug 2015
  16. island

    island Established Member

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    There are invariably staff members set up to sell (exclusively) tickets on arrival at major termini. I am not sure what installing machines would achieve, other than emboldening passengers to short-fare, it being a well-known psychological outcome that humans are more inclined to attempt to deceive a machine than another human.
     
  17. Bletchleyite

    Bletchleyite Veteran Member

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    In that case the staff at that exit need to sell tickets to those who have not got them for a legitimate reason, not to try to catch people out.

    Is there a very clear sign stating the exit is for ticket holders only and that non-ticket holders using it are subject to prosecution whatever the reason for not holding one?
     
  18. Mojo

    Mojo Forum Staff Staff Member Administrator

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    I agree, I have seen the exit that leads to the area by McDonalds and indeed have used it a few times, it is not obvious at all that it is not suitable for use by non-ticket holders. Indeed I would probably say that it is equally as suitable for accessing the ticket office.
     
  19. yorkie

    yorkie Forum Staff Staff Member Administrator

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    I have used this exit before and there is nothing "stupid" about using it; there are not (unless they are very new) signs stating the exit is only for ticket holders only.

    I am disappointed you are not prepared to fight this if you have genuinely simply used the most convenient exit and simply followed the signs

    If that is the case and you want to fight it feel free to contact me.
     
  20. 34D

    34D Established Member

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    The rationale is that anyone who doesn't immediately head for the ticket office has committed a byelaw 18 offence.
     
  21. 455driver

    455driver Veteran Member

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    Indeed, if the intention is to buy a ticket then they will head for the ticket office, if they are unsure where the ticket office is then they will ask and not head for the nearest exit.
     
  22. Starmill

    Starmill Events Co-ordinator

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    It seems that this doesn't cause too many Virgin Trains East Coast stations (such as Darlington, Wakefield Westgate and Peterborough) where ticket machines are used in this way.

    As of today, this exit is not signed for ticket holders only.
     
    Last edited: 29 Aug 2015
  23. hairyhandedfool

    hairyhandedfool Established Member

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    AIUI, the 'McDonalds exit' is shortly to be fitted with maglocks, to be used as an emergency exit only for the Arena. The doors to the car park will also have these locks fitted soon. There is a place to buy tickets 'inside' the ticket barriers between platforms 2 and 3 which is manned by STM staff.
     
  24. Bletchleyite

    Bletchleyite Veteran Member

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    While no doubt inconvenient to some, this would seem a sensible way to prevent this problem occurring any more.
     
  25. Hellfire

    Hellfire Member

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    Completely agree. It's no coincidence in my view that Northern are one of the most aggressive TOCs when it comes to clamping down on ticketless travel yet, all too often, do not provide the proper facilities to buy them.

    Every station should have a TVM. That TVM should sell the full range of tickets, including the cheaper ones.

    Security of TVMs is much less of an issue now given that the vast majority of people have debit or credit cards so the machines don't have to hold cash. All to often the trains are so overcrowded on my local line that the conductor can't get through to sell tickets even if he/she wanted to.

    In no way do I condone deliberate evasion of fares. But it is, in my view, the responsibility of the TOC to make it as easy as possible to buy tickets. If they don't they are contributing to the problem of ticketless travel.
     
  26. najaB

    najaB Veteran Member

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    And we get back into the (endless) debate of if a card-only ticket machine is or is not an opportunity to purchase...
     
  27. Elecman

    Elecman Established Member

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    They could issue a PTT so that the correct fare can be paid later and thus validate the first payment opportunity
     
  28. yorkie

    yorkie Forum Staff Staff Member Administrator

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