FCC intention to prosecute - Hertford North to London / Bowes Park split issue

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Perns1972

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Hello there,
I hope you can help.

I have a season ticket return from Hertford north to Bowes Park and a three zone travel card from Bowes Park to London.

This ticket was recommended to me by FCC staff at Hertford North.

My ticket has been checked around two or three times per week without a problem.

A few weeks ago an inspector told me that it was invalid and wanted me to pay a penalty fare. I said I thought it was valid, it was recommended by FCC staff and it's been checked previously without there ever being a problem.

The inspector didn't give up but I refused to pay because I thought the ticket was valid - again, it was recommended to me by FCC staff more than once and no restrictions were mentioned - she took my details and today I received an intention to prosecute letter.

I'm not sure what to do next - I've read the Nrcoc and can see that the inspector was right, but I had no idea about his before and none of the other inspectors had mentioned it.

The inspector mentioned that FCC inspectors had decided to hand out penalties for tickets like mine at a recent team meeting.

Since the day this was first raised i've changed the train i travel on, i would never have knowingly travelled on trains with an inalid ticket and I'm desperate not to get a criminal record for this.

Can anyone advice how I can best resolve this without going to court. My mistake was not to pay the penalty fare - I only failed to do his because I thought I was right, and I thought that was the case because of the advice FCC staff had given me when buying and renewing my season tickets and because it had never been a problem before.

Everything posted her is true, many thanks in advance for your help with this.
 
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Perns1972

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Thanks for your reply.

No, the train didn't stop at bowes park. I didn't realise that it had to till about an hour after the event when I read the Nrcoc.

The inspection took between Enfield chase and winchmore hill.

I would never have travelled on the train if I'd known and this kind of restriction wasn't mentioned when I bought theticket
 
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Monty

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I have a season ticket return from Hertford north to Bowes Park and a three zone travel card from Bowes Park to London.

Welcome to the forums. :)

Unfortunately when using split ticketing the train you are travelling on must stop at the stations mentioned on the ticket (to & from), my advice is when you write into FCC apologize profoundly and make it clear to them it was an mistake and that you were acting upon incorrect information given to you by a member of staff. Offer to settle out of court and pay any administration costs that may be incurred.

I wouldn't mention you've been doing it for six years though! It looks like the staff member who gave you this advice assumed wrongly that you knew that train actually had to stop at Bowes Park. Ferret has a better knowledge on the area and ticketing restrictions than I so he may be able to give you better advice on this matter. I hope this helps.
 
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Ferret

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Welcome to the forums. :)
Ferret has a better knowledge on the area and ticketing restrictions than I so he may be able to give you better advice on this matter. I hope this helps.

Not my area Monty! I'm miles away from FCC land at all times, thank heavens!:)

To the OP, am I to take it that both tickets you are using are season tickets?

Do they ask what they intend to prosecute you for? I'm assuming Byelaw 18 as I can't imagine it'll be easy to go for a s.5 intent to avoid in these circumstances.
 

Mike395

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The NRCoC (National Rail Conditions of Carriage) state:

You may use two or more tickets for one journey as long as together they cover the entire
journey and one of the following applies:

...c) one of the tickets is a Season Ticket (which for this purpose does not include
Season Tickets or travel passes issued on behalf of a passenger transport
executive or local authority) or a leisure travel pass, and the other ticket(s) is/are not.

Unfortunately, as both tickets are seasons, the train needs to stop at Bowes Park. :)
 

Monty

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I must say I'm a little surprised they intend to prosecute for this. Surely that's what PFs were made for?!


I think the gentleman was informed he was going to be issued a PFN, but refused to pay it because he believed his ticket was vaild. So it sounds to me either issued a nil paid PFN and did not pay or reported under Byelaw 18. Is it me or are FCC not too keen on issuing nil paid PFs?
 

142094

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Pardon me for asking this but I was under the impression that with split tickets, the train must stop at the station where the split occurs.

Therefore unless I am very much mistaken, the train from Hertford North does have to call at Bowes Park?

It depends on the ticket types, and whether condition 19 applies.
 

Ferret

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I think the gentleman was informed he was going to be issued a PFN, but refused to pay it because he believed his ticket was vaild. So it sounds to me either issued a nil paid PFN and did not pay or reported under Byelaw 18. Is it me or are FCC not too keen on issuing nil paid PFs?

I suppose that makes sense.

At least this should be easy to settle out of Court, assuming first 'offence' etc. Given the minimal loss to FCC, and given the fact that an FCC employee advised him to use that combination of tickets, I'd hope that it shouldn't be a costly out of Court settlement. Maybe even the cost of a PF + a small admin fee should do it - it depends on the prosecutors take on the matter I expect. Perhaps worth the OP making an apologetic phone call, while explaining things from his point of view - thought the combination was valid, was advised to use that combination by FCC employee, won't do it again!
 

lyndhurst25

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Once again I am left feeling uneasy at the way the railway (usually FCC) is treating one of its customers. No doubt all the relevant rules and regulations will be quoted and a conclusion that FCC are perfectly entitled to prosecute the OP will be come to, with the advice that the OP writes a groveling letter and offers to bribe FCC with an amount of money to prevent prosecution.

In this case NRCoC 19c has not been complied with because two season tickets have been used. I can vaguely recall that a Travelcard counts as a season ticket for the purposes of 19c but only from lurking on this forum. Why this is and how Joe Public is supposed to know that, I do not know. Similar travel tickets in the rest of the UK do not count as season tickets for the purposes of 19c. This seems to be because TfL doesn't technically count as a "passenger transport executive or local authority" but if you were to ask the man on the street I'd bet that many would say that it was. I would have done before stumbling across railukforums. TfL's own website keeps mentioning "Authority" and London is a locality!
www.tfl.gov.uk/corporate/about-tfl/2881.aspx

Given that the OP was advised to use this ticket combination by railway staff and has been doing so regularly for YEARS without challenge then I think that FCC have been very harsh. A simple bit of advice on first occasion of being "caught" would have done.

With hindsight, not paying the Penalty Fare may have been a mistake, but in which other areas of life would you hand over money to a business when, in your mind, you were confident that you were in the right? Yes, I know that the railway is "different" to other businesses and has lots of special laws at its disposal that it can use against you if it decides that you have done wrong. These laws are used sparingly in some parts of our National Rail network but seem to be used indiscriminately in other parts (FCC land) with innocent errors resulting in threats to prosecute.

That's all I have to say and I hope that it works out well for the OP.
 

Ferret

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Lyndhurst25 - in this instance, I have to agree. Words of advice in this instance would be my means of dealing with this. It's akin to something I regularly let go where my company is the only operator on the route concerned, yet condition 19 hasn't quite been satisfied. Words of advice, nothing more needed. I'm amazed this issue has gone as far as it has, and if I was in a position to do so, would quite like to try and talk FCC out of this one. Maybe Yorkie can help there, I don't know. At most this should be a PF, and even that's a bit harsh.
 

Perns1972

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Your responses have been so helpful, I really appreciate the expert insight you've provided. I can't think of more helpful and sage advice I've ever received anywhere on the Internet - it's so rare to hear from real experts.

I've phoned the FCC prosecution team a couple of times and I'm waiting for a callback. My approach will be to try to talk to some one to explain, apologise and ask for the best way to resolve this out of court.

As a complicating factor I wrote to the FCC CEO after the inciden to raise the points I've made here - I heard today that I would receive a reply shortly. I hope both arms of FCC are talking to each other, I could do wih his no becoming anymore complicated.

Again, many thanks for your wisdom. And here's a challenge for you, find a forum more knowledgeable than this one on the internet, I think you'll struggle.

Thank you.
 

LexyBoy

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Ouch.

From OP's post, it's clear he's read up thoroughly and just wants to avoid this going any further. Yes, it's unfair, but trying to protest the case is a risk few will want to take for the principle. It's likely that FCC will accept a settlement of a few hundred quid- others will be able to assist in drafting a response as it's one to be careful with.

You could console yourself by working out how much you've saved over the years versus a likely settlement :) we'll be able to advise on a suitable ticket or combination of tickets which would be valid for your journey.
 

Ferret

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Please let us know how you get on with this one. I know the FCC Revenue Inspector is technically in the right, but I'd be quite pleased to see this one dropped.
 

Deerfold

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I've seen on here before that WAGN used to allow this - and initially so did FCC, over and above the rights allowed in condition 19. Someone on here had a letter from FCc confirming this but I'm afraid I don't remember who.

It's come up before that at some point they changed their minds - but gave as little publicity to that as they did to the original decision - I know this issue has cropped up before but I think without an attempt to prosecute.

Ah - more here: http://www.railforums.co.uk/showthread.php?p=500152
 

yorkie

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Perns1972 - I am absolutely willing to help in any way I can, though that may be quite limited.

I have enabled your PM facility so you can send a PM to me (if you'd like me to proof read a letter) and/or jonmorris0844, who may be able to assist as he was also given similar advice in terms of such ticket combinations being considered acceptable in the past.

In September 2010 we discovered that such combinations were no longer being accepted by FCC, though it is unclear when the policy changed. From that point, jonmorris0844 had to change his ticketing arrangements to comply with the new policy.

It was WAGNs policy to waive the requirement for the train to call at the station where you change from one ticket to the next. FCC no longer waives this requirement and strictly adheres to the NRCoC, to the detriment of passengers, but sadly it is their right to do that.

It is, however, unacceptable for FCC to suddenly threaten to prosecute long-standing customers who have merely continued their ticketing arrangements that were acceptable to the previous franchise holder.

If FCC were daft enough to go for a Regulation of Railways Act 5.3 prosecution, then I personally believe you have a good chance of successfully defending such a prosecution (though you would need to ensure you get sound legal representation from a solicitor proficient in railway ticketing matters).

It is more likely that FCC would go for a Railway Byelaw offence, which does not require intent, is not recordable and will not show up on a CRB check. However although this is a strict liability matter, it is not a foregone conclusion that FCC would win. If they do proceed with this, then I will put you in touch with someone who has a victory over FCC who I understand will be willing to share advice.
 

maniacmartin

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Surely if an authorised FCC staff member gave permission to travel on those tickets on those particular trains, then that makes them valid. It is impossible to prove what was said at the time of course.

On a side note, which TOC staff members class as "authorised persons" with respect to the NRCOC?
 

38Cto15E

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It is very disheartening for railway folk when this sort of problem occurs, common sense is probably not mentioned in the rule book,to rub salt into the wounds the OP has probably forked out a couple of £grand£ for his tickets in the first place.
 

OwlMan

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Surely if an authorised FCC staff member gave permission to travel on those tickets on those particular trains, then that makes them valid. It is impossible to prove what was said at the time of course.

On a side note, which TOC staff members class as "authorised persons" with respect to the NRCOC?

But no one had given permission for the ticket held at present.
 

island

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Surely if an authorised FCC staff member gave permission to travel on those tickets on those particular trains, then that makes them valid. It is impossible to prove what was said at the time of course.

On a side note, which TOC staff members class as "authorised persons" with respect to the NRCOC?

I doubt that it will be possible to establish what a staff member said 6 years ago.
 

Deerfold

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It may be worth asking at your local ticket office what advice they would give now to see if they have been informed or if they would give the same advice today.
 

34D

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I've phoned the FCC prosecution team a couple of times and I'm waiting for a callback. My approach will be to try to talk to some one to explain, apologise and ask for the best way to resolve this out of court.

As a complicating factor I wrote to the FCC CEO after the inciden to raise the points I've made here - I heard today that I would receive a reply shortly. I hope both arms of FCC are talking to each other, I could do wih his no becoming anymore complicated.

Again, many thanks for your wisdom. And here's a challenge for you, find a forum more knowledgeable than this one on the internet, I think you'll struggle.

Thank you.

There's no use crying over split milk, however it is unfortunate that you have corresponded with both offices without running it by someone on here.

Let's try a different tack. Allow me to quote clause 19 in full:

19. Using a combination of tickets
You may use two or more tickets for one journey as long as together they cover the entire journey and one of the following applies:
(a) they are both Zonal Tickets (unless special conditions prohibit their use);
(b) the train you are in calls at a station where you change from one ticket to another; or
(c) one of the tickets is a Season Ticket (which for this purpose does not include Season Tickets or travel passes issued on behalf of a passenger transport executive or local authority) or a leisure travel pass, and the other ticket(s) is/are not.
You must comply with any restriction shown on the tickets relating to travel in the trains of a particular Train Company or Train Companies (see Condition 10).
If you do not comply with this Condition, you will be treated as having joined the train without a ticket and the relevant parts of Condition 2 or 4 will apply, either to the entire journey, or from the last station where the train stopped at which at least one of the tickets was valid.
For the purposes of this Condition, a “leisure travel pass” means any multi-journey ticket (excluding Season Tickets) valid for:
(i) at least 7 consecutive days; or
(ii) at least 3 days in a period of at least 7 consecutive days
and includes rover tickets, travel passes, fexipass tickets and Britrail passes.

What I would be saying (in respect of your tickets) is that clause 19C applies in respect of the trains that don't call at Bowes Park. I would be arguing that your London Travelcard meets the definition of "which for this purpose does not include Season Tickets or travel passes issued on behalf of a passenger transport executive or local authority".

HOWEVER can you advise exactly which service you were on AND exactly where the meeting with the inspector happened? My point being that (if you were on the service that calls Enfield Chase, Winchmore Hill, Palmers Green and Finsbury Park) and the conversation happened between Winchmore Hill and Palmers Green, then (in my opinion) a PF isn't appropriate in such a situation.
 

Perns1972

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Good idea - I'll ask my girlfriend to do this as all of the excellent (regardless of this episode) and friendly ticket staff at Hertford North know me - not in a bad way!
--- old post above --- --- new post below ---
Thanks to 34D and everyone else.

I was on the 06:46 Hertford North to Moorgate.

My two tickets are a season ticket return to Bowes Park and a three zone travel card from Bowes Park. This is also an annual/season ticket.

The intention to prosecute letter from the FCC prosecution department says that it was "en route near Grange Park".

Could I have got off at Winchmore Hill? Or would my ticket to Bowes Park have only been valid to that stop?

Thank you again to everyone on here for your expert advice.

Matt
 
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Roylang

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As far as I am aware, you can "stop short" on a season ticket so could have left the train at Winchmore Hill, yes.

Even if you had not been permitted to stop short, you could argue that you were changing train at Winchmore Hill for one that would stop at Bowes Park, making your tickets valid.

Roy
 

LexyBoy

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The intention to prosecute letter from the FCC prosecution department says that it was "en route near Grange Park".

Could I have got off at Winchmore Hill? Or would my ticket to Bowes Park have only been valid to that stop?

A season ticket is valid at all intermediate stations by any route permitted for that ticket. So yes, you certainly could have got off at Winchmore Hill (or Palmers Green).

Claiming that you alighted somewhere other than where you actually did (which I guess was beyond Bowes Park?) could land you in hot water though, so I'd definitely not advise this.

What did you say to the inspector (intended destination, did they offer the chance to alight early), and where did your exchange with them occur? You had a perfectly valid ticket until Palmers Green so you may have grounds for appeal on this basis.
 

island

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This is a tricky one. Technically speaking you do not appear to have committed a Railway Bye-Laws offence as you did have a valid ticket when inspected. However, as you continued on the same train having been informed you did not have a valid ticket, you could be considered to have committed the more serious Regulation of Railways Act Offence of travelling beyond the distance for which you had paid the fare, with the intention to avoid payment thereof.

If you are certain the inspection happened at a place where your first ticket was still valid, a possible course of action (but one which should be taken only with the proper advice) is to let the matter go to court, plead not guilty, and point out that you had a valid ticket when inspected. Or speak to the prosecutor beforehand and make that point.

What you should not do is admit that you travelled on without a valid ticket!
 
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