GTR penalty fare for sitting in first class

Discussion in 'Disputes & Prosecutions' started by pierrejacques, 11 Jan 2020.

  1. pierrejacques

    pierrejacques Member

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    Hello everyone,
    I need a bit of an advice please. Long story short:
    East Croydon - London Bridge Thameslink service
    Severe disruption out of West Croydon due to signal failure at New Cross Gate. Ticket acceptance is in place. Crystal Palace plays a game this afternoon. As a result of these trains out of East Croydon station are extremely busy.

    A member of staff on the platform stated to me; "You can sit in first class but don't let an inspector catch you." I took it as permission of a member of railway staff.
    As I saw the inspector approaching and I left the first class accommodation. When he approached me I was standing outside the first class area. He issued a penalty fare which I paid on the spot in full.

    I would like to appeal on the following grounds:
    - I had permission from a member of railway staff to use the first class accommodation with a standard ticket
    - When the inspector approached me I wasn't in the first class area

    Can I please have your thoughts on it?
    Is there any chance that this penalty fare gets converted to a prosecution as a result of my appeal? I work for a railway company and I rather let the whole thing go but I cannot afford to be prosecuted. Thank you.
     
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  3. 30907

    30907 Established Member

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    If you've paid the PF that's it. End of.

    "Don't let an inspector catch you" wouldn't in my book count as permission to travel First.
    BTW is it still the case that only the front coach of a TL service is "actual" first, while the rearmost coach is automatically declassified? (Ignoring trains that are timetabled as standard only, that's not relevant at ECR).
     
  4. island

    island Established Member

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    If you’ve paid the Penalty Fare that is the end of the matter.

    The qualification of “don’t let an inspector catch you” is clear enough to me to state that it does not qualify as permission to sit in 1st. It was not ideal that the staff member said this, but that is what it is.

    If I am wrong and the staff member’s words were enough to authorise you to travel in 1st class, you’re still stuck with the “bloke on the platform” problem, namely proving that the staff member in question said what you claim he or she said, and was an authorised person.

    I’d chalk it up to experience.
     
  5. island

    island Established Member

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    It is, normally by way of notices on the PIS.
     
  6. furlong

    furlong Established Member

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    Did you tell the collector at the time that you had been given this "permission" to sit there provided you moved before an inspector appeared which is what you had done?
    Did you make a note of the name - or take a description - of the person you spoke to who gave you that strange "permission"?

    Did you show the collector a ticket or pass valid for standard class? Did that (or anything else) identify you as railway staff?

    In theory the company cannot prosecute after issuing a PF unless it later discovers new evidence not in its possession at the time which would have meant that that specific PF would not have been issued - e.g. if a lie is uncovered.

    If you want to appeal a penalty fare, focus first on checking for the usual flaws, such as non-compliant paperwork or signage - both of which seem to be astonishingly common.

    In theory at least PF appeals work the other way around - the train company would have to provide evidence that reasonably demonstrates that the permission claimed was not given.
     
  7. jon0844

    jon0844 Veteran Member

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    But you did let an inspector catch you. So you didn't take his advice!!

    (Advice which I'd take as being a badly phrased way of saying 'I can't stop you going in there, but if you get checked you're going to get done').

    I wouldn't waste your time appealing an open and shut case.
     
  8. pierrejacques

    pierrejacques Member

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    I have a description of that person from the platform. Yes, I had a valid staff pass and I presented it. I told him I was given permission.

    What's your view on the second aspect that I actually wasn't in the first class area when he approached me?
     
  9. gray1404

    gray1404 Established Member

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    You have nothing to loose by appealing. As it stands at the moment, as you have paid the penalty fare, it is the end of the matter. If you appeal and loose, nothing will change. If you win your appeal, the train company will have to refund you. It is also worth nothing you have to appeal within 21 days following the date of the incident. You have up to 3 appeals as if the first appeal rejects, you can then appeal to the second appeal level and then the third.

    You need to provide some more information though. Which section of first class were you in i.e. the front or the back of the train (in case you were in a declassified section)? What time train were you on (so we can check if that train is booked to have first class), was there a clear notice at the station/platform you left from advising of the penalty fares scheme? From the paperwork you were given how was the penalty fare calculated (which stations?) and what was the amount of penalty fare paid? Are there any mistakes (wrong time or date) on the paperwork you received?

    If you can think through the above then you might be able to find a valid grounds for appeal.
     
  10. gray1404

    gray1404 Established Member

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    Also, if you work for a train company then you were lucky that the inspector didn't either withdraw your staff travel pass as you were misusing it or indeed take your details so that you could be reported for misuse of staff travel. I would make sure you username on here does not link you to your real name and also that your location in your profile is not where you live. Otherwise, given this forum is read by many rail staff, your employer may become aware of what has happened.
     
  11. Failed Unit

    Failed Unit Established Member

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    I have known people get fined for standing in first on an overcrowded train on the stunning journey between London Bridge and Blackfriars.

    But nothing to lose by appealing. I won one on great northern when the 387s were introduced as it was impossible to tell at the time that you had walked into first from the adjacent coach (now changed). Untimely it is now your work against the inspectors.
     
  12. Bletchleyite

    Bletchleyite Veteran Member

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    I would say if this is a staff pass don't appeal, you don't want to draw attention to yourself.
     
  13. pierrejacques

    pierrejacques Member

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    He didn't take the number of my staff pass and I checked this with him that he wouldnt record it anywhere. He didn't either take any of my details only a card payment. I also have a zones 1-6 travelcard so if I appeal and they ask for my ticket I can supply that travelcard.
     
  14. Hadders

    Hadders Established Member

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    I definitely would not appeal if you have a staff pass. Whether the RPI took the details or not someone could put two and two together when dealing with you're appeal. It simply isn't worth the hassle of getting into hot water at work and jeopardising your staff travel facilities.

    My view is that you didn't have permission to travel in 1st class, bit I know others might disagree. I'd just chalk it up to experience and move on.

    To clarify the rear 1st class compartment is always declassified on Thameslink trains. Sometimes the front compartment is as well bit those trains don't go to East Croydon.
     
  15. pierrejacques

    pierrejacques Member

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    13:46 East Croydon - London Bridge - Welwyn Garden City
    First carriage
    No notice on the platform but I believe there is one at the station. I will check it. Is there any specification the notice at the station needs to comply with? (E.g. branded by the TOC, size, location, etc.)
    The PF was for a journey between ECR and LBG. Reason: Standard to First Class. Date and time and other details correct. No personal details obtained. Penalty fare of £20.
     
  16. pierrejacques

    pierrejacques Member

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    Thabks for all your advice so far. As far as I'm concerned I had permission to travel there therefore I'm considering to appeal.

    Can somebody please comment on the aspect that I wasnt actually in the first class area when I got approached?
     
  17. Hadders

    Hadders Established Member

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    I'd the inspector saw you travelling in first class then the fact that you were stopped outside the compartment is irrelevant.

    For the sake of £20 with staff travel facilities at possible risk just chalk it up to experience and move on.
     
  18. 1B85

    1B85 Member

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    It does not matter. You of course have an argument if you boarded between two 1st class carriages and were making your way through to STD, but otherwise you are liable.
     
  19. gray1404

    gray1404 Established Member

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    As a railway member of staff yourself do you really think someone saying: "You can sit in first class but don't let an inspector catch you." is serious permission to travel in first class? What did you ask the member of platform staff in order for them to reply with the above.

    It is a shame you are not looking at the other factors (above) to see if you actually have valid grounds for an appeal.
     
  20. pierrejacques

    pierrejacques Member

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    I asked a simple question: is first class declassified due to the overcrowding? And you know the response I received. As I said I have a travelcard so nobody would ever know I actually work for a TOC.
     
  21. furlong

    furlong Established Member

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    Before making any type of appeal. re-read your contract of employment and all the terms under which you receive any benefits and consider whether of not this incident might lead to any form of action being taken against you. Even if your appeal were successful on some grounds, that wouldn't rule out disciplinary action.
     
  22. Hadders

    Hadders Established Member

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    You will have to give your name and address when you appeal. It doesn't take much for someone handling the appeal to check if you're a staff member.

    Did the fact that the person you spoke to said 'don't let an inspector catch you in first class' not ring any alarm bells with you? I certainly would not take what they told you as permission.
     
  23. pierrejacques

    pierrejacques Member

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    Thanks for that however I work for a different TOC. I don't think GTR has a list of all staff of other companies.
     
  24. Hadders

    Hadders Established Member

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    And by companies outsource this work.

    There will be a list somewhere of everyone with staff travel facilities. Is it really worth the risk for £20....
     
  25. pierrejacques

    pierrejacques Member

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    That's fine. Thanks. I will steal £20 worth of milk and stationary from the office. (Only joking)
     
  26. Bletchleyite

    Bletchleyite Veteran Member

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    I wouldn't consider what that member of staff said to be permission to travel, it very clearly was not. It was probably a staff-to-staff joke, particularly if they were one of the contract security guards who aren't necessarily as well trained as a proper railway person.

    It isn't worth your career to get £20 back. Put it down to experience, and remember that as staff you are expected to behave 100% all the time - had they prosecuted that would cost you your job.
     
  27. Mag_seven

    Mag_seven Established Member

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    That really is not what a member of railway staff should be saying.
     
  28. Bletchleyite

    Bletchleyite Veteran Member

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    Had the OP not gone into 1st and got PFed for it, that might be worth a complaint - indeed it should not as it is open to misinterpretation (no member of staff who is not authorised to do so should say anything that even vaguely suggests giving someone permission to travel in a manner not permitted by the ticket they hold as loose words of that nature can in the worst case result in the passenger getting a criminal record). I wouldn't in this instance, though - the OP would not benefit from drawing attention to this.
     
  29. Mag_seven

    Mag_seven Established Member

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    Indeed - had the OP not been a member of railway staff, I would have recommended that the staff member that said that be reported.
     
  30. furlong

    furlong Established Member

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    I think the basic point here is that the person asking the question, as a member of railway staff, would be expected to know the basic rules and therefore to respond to the ambiguous answer they say they received by seeking clarification, in a way that a member of the public might not. Similarly, even if an appeal on technicalities succeeded, staff would nevertheless be expected to have known the rules and could face some form of disciplinary action.
     
  31. matt_world2004

    matt_world2004 Established Member

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    I don't think it should be appealed;not over £20 and even if the appeal wins. It is going to get the staff member on the platform on trouble over what was a flippant comment made to another staff member
     

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