Government and TOCs responsibility wrt PFs, TIRs ,ticketless & invalid ticket travel

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General Zod

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Perhaps the subject has been discussed many times in previous threads but after reading the latest post from the 'Hatfield law student' and his travails with FCC I really do have some sympathy with the non-informed and casual traveler regarding the pitfalls and perils of ticketless and invalid ticket travel. Whereas I do not condone such behavior I genuinely believe that the majority of average folk have no clue regarding the strict and harsh penalties which could potentially be handed out to them. Once a week a new poster arrives who has had an unfortunate on-board Ripper experience ( FCC seem to be quite busy) and is quite bemused at the harsh treatment being meted out to him / her. By all accounts they seem utterly horrified that the TOCs have taken such draconian measures. They seem further mortified when informed that the TOCs are following railway laws laid down and can/will pursue an individual through the courts.
The cynic in me says that if more direct and visible informing took place at the stations themselves then perhaps people would take firmer measures to ensure that they will not be breaking rules but this would in turn lead to lower collection in PFs , fines and out of court settlements. Privatization was a government policy and I do feel that they are at liberty to further edify the traveling public on the subject and the resulting penalties one can expect if found breaking the law. Certainly the more compassionate among you would agree that many people have fallen foul of train revenue collectors purely through their own simple ignorance, mistakes or just genuine lack of understanding of the rules. Consequently , and some may say justifiably, they feel quite aggrieved at being financially penalized or labelled as fare dodgers.
 
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paul1609

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Perhaps the subject has been discussed many times in previous threads but after reading the latest post from the 'Hatfield law student' and his travails with FCC I really do have some sympathy with the non-informed and casual traveler regarding the pitfalls and perils of ticketless and invalid ticket travel. Whereas I do not condone such behavior I genuinely believe that the majority of average folk have no clue regarding the strict and harsh penalties which could potentially be handed out to them. Once a week a new poster arrives who has had an unfortunate on-board Ripper experience ( FCC seem to be quite busy) and is quite bemused at the harsh treatment being meted out to him / her. By all accounts they seem utterly horrified that the TOCs have taken such draconian measures. They seem further mortified when informed that the TOCs are following railway laws laid down and can/will pursue an individual through the courts.
The cynic in me says that if more direct and visible informing took place at the stations themselves then perhaps people would take firmer measures to ensure that they will not be breaking rules but this would in turn lead to lower collection in PFs , fines and out of court settlements. Privatization was a government policy and I do feel that they are at liberty to further edify the traveling public on the subject and the resulting penalties one can expect if found breaking the law. Certainly the more compassionate among you would agree that many people have fallen foul of train revenue collectors purely through their own simple ignorance, mistakes or just genuine lack of understanding of the rules. Consequently , and some may say justifiably, they feel quite aggrieved at being financially penalized or labelled as fare dodgers.

Don't really see the relevance of privatisation to this. penalty fares were introduced by the British Rail (penalty fares) Act of 1989.



 

michael769

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I think that any reasonable person would realise that travelling without a ticket (unless in circumstances where they have a good reason to buy on board or at the destination) is obviously wrong.

Setting aside the minority who fall foul of a genuine error or poor advice, the problem seems to be that a lot of people do not quite grasp that fare dodging is stealing and it comes as a big shock to them when they are treated like the common criminal they are. I quite frankly have very little sympathy for such people - whatever their justifications they know full well that what they are doing is wrong - it is a case of if you cannot do the time do not do the crime!

Having said that we have seen cases of people genuinely falling foul of this through no fault of their own (for example having been given bad advice by a different member of staff), and it does seem that the industry should not be permitted to pursue such people unless they have good evidence that their claims are false.

The real solution? Invest more in making it harder for fare dodgers to get on the train in the first place. In an ideal world we would have manned ticket purchasing facilities and barriers/manned blockades at all stations. In the real world such a level of investment would render many parts of the network financially untenable - which means that the current unsatisfactory state of affairs will continue for the foreseeable future.

I do think there does need to be some reform of the rules to ensure that the ToCs are able to maintain an adequate level of enforcement, but at the same time ensuring an adequate minimum level of customer service. I also feel that BTP should be taking a greater involvement in this area - and also be providing more effective support to staff for this purpose. It is not (IMO) acceptable for a police force to pick and choose which offences they choose to deal with - albeit there is almost certainly a need for them to be adequately resourced in order to do so.
 

Ferret

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Certainly the more compassionate among you would agree that many people have fallen foul of train revenue collectors purely through their own simple ignorance, mistakes or just genuine lack of understanding of the rules. Consequently , and some may say justifiably, they feel quite aggrieved at being financially penalized or labelled as fare dodgers.

If you're caught without a valid ticket, you are breaking the law - simple as that. What surprises me is why some of the people who come on here wanting advice think that it should be any different! Any other form of transport requires a ticket to be held. I do think the consequences of ticketless travel should be advertised more, but even then we'd still get people on here, some of whom would be generally surprised, and some of whom would feign surprise at their predicament.

In answer to the thread title - the responsibility lies with the passenger to ensure he/she holds a ticket. Simple.

 

SS4

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Surely there have been enough "man on the platform" stories for genuine passengers to ask for something in writing, especially from ticket office clerks.

TOCs can take almost whatever action they like so long as they have a captive audience. Whether that is right, wrong or otherwise is a different matter.
 

aformeruser

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If you're caught without a valid ticket, you are breaking the law - simple as that.

It's a legal requirement to buy a ticket for your journey. Holding on to a ticket unless you've finished your journey is proof of fulfilling the legal requirement not the legal requirement itself.
 

michael769

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Holding on to a ticket unless you've finished your journey is proof of fulfilling the legal requirement not the legal requirement itself.

How does Railway Byelaw 18 (the requirement to produce a valid ticket upon request) fit in with this?
 

Ferret

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How does Railway Byelaw 18 (the requirement to produce a valid ticket upon request) fit in with this?

Well, it mentions the part I failed to mention - the caveat about there needing to be facilities to buy a ticket for the passenger to have broken this law. Needless to say though, Byelaw 18 is generally the one that counts....;)
 

exile

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Unfortunately you don't need just to buy the ticket but to produce it on demand so if someone steals your wallet (with ticket) on the train this immediately puts you in breacj of the law.
 

island

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Unfortunately you don't need just to buy the ticket but to produce it on demand so if someone steals your wallet (with ticket) on the train this immediately puts you in breacj of the law.

True, but I would trust magistrates to apply common sense if it came to court.
 
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Up to the 70's most mainline stations operated barriers at most stations. When you exited from the platform / station your ticket would be checked / collected. Some would check you ticket when entering the platform, and sometimes 'wrong platform sir!' Checks on most trains were more frequent too.

Today many stations have no barriers, platform tickets etc.
Some TOC's rely less on conductors and more on RPI's to ensure fares are paid.

I find the 'penalty fare' notices a bit misleading - £20 etc.
FCC should have a Poster at the platform entrance 'Important..If you do not have a valid ticket.. Do NOT board the train...You risk prosecution in the Magistrates Court'
Please check you have a valid ticket available for inspection at all times

The railway is not alone in reducing staff checking & issuing tickets.
Motorist have the onus on them to buy a parking ticket at a pay & display car park, or receive a hefty penalty, clamping or tow away.
The money raised in 'fines' at municipal car parks is staggering!! and they still chance it, especially at night!
Probably FCC's prosecution department 'recover' a substantial sum for the company. (Unfortunately less than money lost in fare evasion)
 

87015

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Its got little to do with the DfT - very few of the franchises have any commitments about ticketless travel written into them - its a commercial decision by the TOC to take revenue protection as a cost / loss decision.

There is a franchise commitment on ticketless travel levels in the Greater Anglia franchise and expected to be in more of the one coming up in 2013/2014.
 
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Yew

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It doesnt help that we have a wide range of fares, from a few pounds to many hundereds. Yet they are all tackled under the same sets of laws, so what is a reasonable penalty for a £300 fare, is seemed grossly unfair for a £5 fare. I suppose penalty fares Kind of help, but the system we have is far from perfect, and especcially when there is inconsistency between TOC's..
 
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neilmc

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Given that the number of staffed stations is only a fraction of the total, how is a member of the public supposed to know when exactly they can buy a ticket on board and when they are going to be treated as a criminal instead? Last year I travelled from Highbridge to Bristol for the day - no ticket office, no machine even though the station was well used; I had to confirm with other passengers that there was indeed no facility for buying ANY ticket as I didn't reckon that a gripper would be very sympathetic to "I don't live round here ... I couldn't see one" if in fact there WAS a machine somewhere and I had merely failed to spot it.

I remember in the 1960s/1970s most of the West Yorkshire network was covered by "Paytrains" and the whole idea was that the guard sold tickets, so there was no opportunity to buy any kind of pre-boarding ticket except at busy regional centres - anywhere else was left to fall into ruin. The idea was that only cheap(ish) singles were sold on board, just like on a bus. People might reasonably think that is still normally the case .

There is a common theme in all this - the government/TOCs understaff, have conflicting policies and procedures which even the cognoscenti on this forum can't always agree on - but the ordinary passengers still pays over the odds, then with any luck picks up a hefty fine for contravening some rule.
 

moonrakerz

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The railway is not alone in reducing staff checking & issuing tickets.
Motorist have the onus on them to buy a parking ticket at a pay & display car park, or receive a hefty penalty, clamping or tow away.
The money raised in 'fines' at municipal car parks is staggering!! and they still chance it, especially at night!

At one time (may still be the case) the London "congestion charge" only paid its way because of the fines and deliberate difficulties for motorists to understand how the system worked.
 

Ferret

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I completely agree with the poster above who suggests that ticket offices should be available and open. This is where Roy McNumpty showed a breathtaking lack of knowledge and understanding with his quite ridiculous report. Frankly, I'd have expected better from a 10 year old.
 

exile

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I completely agree with the poster above who suggests that ticket offices should be available and open. This is where Roy McNumpty showed a breathtaking lack of knowledge and understanding with his quite ridiculous report. Frankly, I'd have expected better from a 10 year old.

Fair point but a station with, say, 20,000 passengers a year is going to be hard put to support full time staffing. And there are hundreds of stations with less traffic than that. Of course for those then buying on the train is the sensible option. McNulty however seems to suggest (a) machine only at stations (b) driver only trains for much of the network - presumably backed up by roving RPIs?
 

IanXC

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Fair point but a station with, say, 20,000 passengers a year is going to be hard put to support full time staffing. And there are hundreds of stations with less traffic than that.

I think that a number of stations could reasonably be manned, and existing manning preserved, if a wider range of tasks were undertaken by the staff member.

Instead of spending nearly all day in the booking office they could spend their day around the station, conducting such tasks as:
-assisting passengers using TVMs
-undertaking manual blocks on their platforms/supervising a gateline
-providing booked assistance (hopefully improving punctuality)
-doing some of the work the Facilities Management company would otherwise do, changing posters, emptying bins, gritting platforms in winter, and so on.
-replenishing, emptying and minor fault fixing on TVMs.

I'm sure there are other things which could be added too.
 

michael769

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I'm sure there are other things which could be added too.

Such a move would also provide much needed reassurance to vulnerable passengers which could well help to further promote rail usage - especially during the quieter periods where there is plenty of spare capacity.
 

exile

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Such a move would also provide much needed reassurance to vulnerable passengers which could well help to further promote rail usage - especially during the quieter periods where there is plenty of spare capacity.

Indeed. I'm familiar with a station which I won't name which is in a decidedly spooky inner city location. The staff member never moves from his office - not his fault, he's just following his job description which is to sell tickets - and is not in a position to view events on the platforms. Even a CCTV system would be an advance (as would be train information given trains don't always call at the same platform and I've missed trains through waiting at the wrong one).
 

General Zod

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The gist of my original post was that personally, and people may disagree with me, I think public awareness needs to be raised as to the penalties and possible repercussions of traveling without a valid ticket. It is the TOC and Government's responsibility to do this. One or two discretely placed posters warning about penalty fares isn't too much or a deterrent and does not look threatening enough. The opportunist fare dodger won't be too alarmed. If, however, the warnings are rather more gruesome and brutal then I think they will have more of a desired effect. TOCs need to drum it into everyone that you must have a correct and valid ticket for your journey or else A, B and C will happen.
The government have forced tobacco companies to include a large "SMOKING KILLS" warning on the packets so why not posters with similar warnings at stations and in railway guides, pamphlets and timetables ? I read just the Chiltern timetable booklet and it does mention valid tickets and Penalty fares but how about going up a notch and saying that X number passengers were caught and successfully prosecuted, given criminal records, prison sentences etc etc. Reinforce the point that fare evasion does not pay and getting caught could result in life changing consequences. Chances are that the very casual traveler who is still confused by the ticketing system , Off peak / peak times, restriction codes etc etc will be just as ignorant to the punishment he/she could face if he did not possess a ticket or the correct ticket for his journey.
 

michael769

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I think public awareness needs to be raised as to the penalties and possible repercussions of traveling without a valid ticket.

I am not necessarily sure I agree with that. I think most people understand that fare dodging is dishonest. If they don't understand that the rail industry is getting serious about dealing with their thievery, and that the legal system will support their efforts that is their problem.

As for the less culpable cases - there is a need for the law (and NCoC) to be overhauled to compel ToCs to ensure that such cases are dealt with proportionately. It should not be possible (even in theory) for a ToC to successfully prosecute a passenger whose only offence is to have their pocket picked on railway property after purchasing their ticket.
 

DaveNewcastle

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. . . . . If they don't understand that the rail industry is getting serious about dealing with their thievery, and that the legal system will support their efforts that is their problem.
If we take that line of reasoning, then yes, a Prosecution is one sure way of getting the message across (especially effective for those who don't read informative posters!). But its a lot of work just to make a difference to one person (or maybe a small handful of close observers / family / friends).

General Zod's proposition was that "public awareness needs to be raised as to the penalties and possible repercussions of traveling without a valid ticket." and posters on stations and other well targetted publicity can make a difference to a lot more passengers than a few prosecutions.

Now, you would have a better argument if you felt that widespread publicity without visible enforcement would not be credible. But that's a different reason for disagreeing with the proposition. Though its a reason which would be widely supported in those areas where evasion is regular and widespread, fuelled by unstaffed stations and the impracticability of a Guard performing all duties and collecting all fares on busy stopping services.

My view is that the effective means of changing widespread public abuse of the system requires several strategies, which will include, publicity, visible prosecutions, additional issuing facilities and more support for front-line staff in busy areas.
 

Wath Yard

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The cynic in me says that if more direct and visible informing took place at the stations themselves then perhaps people would take firmer measures to ensure that they will not be breaking rules but this would in turn lead to lower collection in PFs , fines and out of court settlements. Privatization was a government policy and I do feel that they are at liberty to further edify the traveling public on the subject and the resulting penalties one can expect if found breaking the law. Certainly the more compassionate among you would agree that many people have fallen foul of train revenue collectors purely through their own simple ignorance, mistakes or just genuine lack of understanding of the rules. Consequently , and some may say justifiably, they feel quite aggrieved at being financially penalized or labelled as fare dodgers.

I would really rather the Government didn't waste my money on producing government information films telling people they need to pay for goods and services. Regardless of whether people know the actual penalty or not they certainly know they should have a ticket. The punishment, however, should fit the crime (so to speak) and the obviously dishonest should certainly be punished more severely than those who make an effort to pay on the train, and presumably this is usually what happens.

The real solution? Invest more in making it harder for fare dodgers to get on the train in the first place. In an ideal world we would have manned ticket purchasing facilities and barriers/manned blockades at all stations. In the real world such a level of investment would render many parts of the network financially untenable - which means that the current unsatisfactory state of affairs will continue for the foreseeable future.

I was quite pleased the last time I went to Bradford Interchange to see that it now has ticket barriers, however was slightly less impressed that they were open and unmanned at 15:00 on a weekday. To ensure the vast majority of passengers have tickets you do not need barriers at every station, just the main ones, but not bothering to man them is hardly a deterrent and is just a waste of time and money.
 

michael769

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If we take that line of reasoning, then yes, a Prosecution is one sure way of getting the message across (especially effective for those who don't read informative posters!). But its a lot of work just to make a difference to one person (or maybe a small handful of close observers / family / friends).

It is not about getting the message across, if someone's parents, conscience and moral compass is not sufficient to convince them not to steal then nothing will. The best we can hope for is to make them sufficiently fearful of the consequences of a repeat that they will desist.

I do not believe that it is necessary to put out films, posters or whatever to tell people that stealing is wrong. They know that well fine but choose to do it anyway.

General Zod said:
Certainly the more compassionate among you would agree that many people have fallen foul of train revenue collectors purely through their own simple ignorance, mistakes or just genuine lack of understanding of the rules. Consequently , and some may say justifiably, they feel quite aggrieved at being financially penalized or labelled as fare dodgers.

I agree, but would argue that people in such circumstances should not be falling foul of such rules. If it is not obviously wrong to someone with a degree of a functioning moral compass then it probably is not wrong, and thus there should be no law against it.

We should not permit the Rail Industry to criminalise or penalise basically innocent but mistaken people simply to make it easier for them to deal with the real criminals. There are no shortcuts in justice and allowing law enforcers to take the easy way out as an alternative to doing the job properly only harms us all.

Having complex, obscure or poorly promoted rules simply serves to make rail travel a more hostile and unpleasant experience for most people than is necessary or acceptable. Until such time as the industry can stand without public subsidies and thus is no longer accountable to us we should not be permitting it to make money for their executives and shareholders by treating us like an inconvenient nuisance.
 

DaveNewcastle

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Having complex, obscure or poorly promoted rules simply serves to make rail travel a more hostile and unpleasant experience for most people than is necessary or acceptable.
I omitted that element from my post above - and I'll accept that there is some merit in your claim.

But this brings us to a point in these discussions where one of us asks another : "So what would you propose to replace the current legislation?"
Its a challenge which I've found attractive, but as I'm sure all of us realise, it would be a considerable undertaking, and who would pay for it, and with what incentive to do so?

Its at this point that the discussion often collapses!
[Its interesting that in the UK Government's recent sweep through outdated legislation here, around 400 old and extant Railway Laws have been repealled this Spring, but no suggestion of updating the most frequently used Railway Acts has been made, despite those used in Fare Prosecutions including one Act from the 1840's and one from the 1880's.]
 

Mystic Force

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Given that ignorance is no defense to the law it does not seem onerous for the party responsible for the law from disseminating information to help others not break it. A full understanding would quite clearly help many of those who come on here seeking help. Some are quite clearly trying it on and others are mistaken, confused or misinformed.

The cost of a few posters doesn't seem like it would be that large, and might persuade a few people not to try it if they knew what could happen, it might make some one check their pocket twice before they boarded a train saving the hassle of a dispute with an RPI or check that its really the right train.

As for wasting taxes, how about every time a prosecution comes before a magistrate. Many of these would be avoided if there was proper barrier checks and train checks. Done often as a deliberate cost saving measure and then passing the burden on to the public to enforce the law because they don't want to have the cost of controlling the access to the railway themselves.

If you don't think government should be telling people what to do then don't watch late night telly with the public service announcements, you won't like it.

The best strategy to me seems to be a multi-pronged one, of deterents, warnings and checks.

The idea that we should not inform the traveling public of their responsibilities and then rub your hands with glee when someone falls foul of them seems rather odd. There are genuine fare dodgers out there who seem to travel with impunity, that no one seems to bother going after, so it can't be that big a concern.

I have on a number of occasions technically broken railway rules that I could have been prosecuted for some accidentally and some "chancing it"

For example I boarded the wrong train because the split platform had the train parked ambiguously between a and b and I didn't see that there were two departures from this platform and there was no one around to ask. Strictly i could have been fined. I lost my season ticket once and was let of by the guard because I was recognized as a frequent traveler, I have on occasion boarded at unmanned station not seen a conductor and alighted and left the station without paying. I don't think these mark me out as an evil person. I quite frankly didn't know that the last one could land me in so much trouble, I just thought well if they cant do it, it sucks to be them.

I dislike some of the comparisons to other forms of transport, if I sat in the wrong seat on a plane I would be asked to move, not prosecuted. I have over traveled on a bus, my punishment was to walk further to my destination. Argument by analogy is one of the false arguments, analogy is purely a tool of explanation not a logical conjecture.
 
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12CSVT

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Some form of standardisation is needed. It was pure madness (brodering on entrapment) when you could walk onto a Gatwick Express service at Gatwick Airport and purchase your ticket on board, but you could be penalty fared for getting on a Southern or FCC service from the same station.
 
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