Guards on Penalty Fare routes selling tickets on board

Status
Not open for further replies.

All Line Rover

Established Member
Joined
17 Feb 2011
Messages
5,054
Transport Focus published a case study in January 2016 regarding a passenger who 'intended' (which may well have been genuine) to purchase a ticket from the guard during an 8 minute journey on a London Midland train from Crewe to Alsager (a small, unstaffed station with no ticket purchasing facilities). The passenger was charged a Penalty Fare. London Midland refused Transport Focus' request to refund the Penalty Fare, leaving Transport Focus "disappointed".

I have two questions about this:

(1) I was under the impression that all stations on routes charging Penalty Fares are required to have ticket purchasing facilities. How can Alsager not have ticket purchasing facilities? All it requires is a TVM on each of its two platforms.

(2) London Midland guards tend to allow passengers to purchase tickets (sometimes even Railcard-discounted tickets) on-board, regardless of whether the passenger boarded at a station with ticket purchasing facilities. How can London Midland justify this lack of consistency? I feel that Penalty Fares should always be charged, unless a passenger is making a connection from a long distance service to a short distance service (which they may not have purchased a ticket for in advance because of the high likelihood of the long distance service being late) at an interchange station (such as Crewe) and informs the guard on the short distance service before the train departs of their need to purchase a ticket.
 
Sponsor Post - registered members do not see these adverts; click here to register, or click here to log in
R

RailUK Forums

najaB

Veteran Member
Joined
28 Aug 2011
Messages
24,040
Location
Scotland
(1) I was under the impression that all stations on routes charging Penalty Fares are required to have ticket purchasing facilities. How can Alsager not have ticket purchasing facilities? All it requires is a TVM on each of its two platforms.
Yes, they should have ticket purchasing facilities or a permit to travel machine. The rules make it clear that a PF cannot be issued if the passenger had no opportunity to purchase.

The fact that Transport Focus are 'disappointed' but can't actually do anything is why there needs to be a regulator with actual power - LM will continue to think they are applying the rules correctly since there is nobody to tell them otherwise.


Sent from my Nexus 7 using Tapatalk

Edit: In this case it does seem that LM haven't actually breached any rules - I hadn't read the link and assumed the journey was from Alsager.
 
Last edited:

Blindtraveler

Established Member
Joined
28 Feb 2011
Messages
7,847
Location
Nowhere near enough to a Pacer :(
I assume LM's argument is that a number of opportunitties to purchase were available:

1. On a previouse train to Crewe

2. At the booking office or machine at Crewe itself

now CRE is barried this in theory shouldmt happen but in my experience the gates from the subway entrance are often open and unstaffed and with Alsager only having an hourly service I bet many would bord with the intention of paying the guard
--- old post above --- --- new post below ---
I dont waist my time with Transport Unfocused any more, the suttle renaming of them should tell you why
 

DaleCooper

Established Member
Joined
2 Mar 2015
Messages
3,403
Location
No.664 - Next door to the Beast
I don't understand the problem here. The passenger travelled from Crewe, there is no mention of a previous train. Is the lack of a TVM at Alsager of any relevance?

Yes, they should have ticket purchasing facilities or a permit to travel machine. The rules make it clear that a PF cannot be issued if the passenger had no opportunity to purchase.

There was an opportunity at Crewe.
 
Last edited:

A1

Member
Joined
20 Dec 2012
Messages
126
Wow, what a pitiful article. Please, pretty please, let this person off their penalty fare.

No.

Oh, OK. Wah, Wah, Bye
 

furlong

Established Member
Joined
28 Mar 2013
Messages
2,382
Location
Reading
The write-up doesn't really cover the key point here.

As it was clear that Mr L was unaware of the requirement to buy a ticket before boarding, and given that he was used to buying on board

Why was he unaware? Were the prescribed posters in place? Did he pass the posters? Did he read and understand them? If not, then why not, and, is it reasonable to believe that an honest person might have found themselves in the same situation? Did the platform displays and train announcements point out that Penalty Fares applied?

The current system relies on the assumption that the posters in place (together with the other measures) are sufficient to ensure that no honest person can board a train without a ticket and be unaware of the consequences.

Any evidence that the assumption is wrong and Penalty Fares are being issued to honest people should lead to the DfT reviewing the rules, which have not been updated since 2002. (This might even be a topic for the transport select committee.)
 

PermitToTravel

Established Member
Joined
21 Dec 2011
Messages
3,044
Location
Groningen
Penalty Fares mustn't be issued to passengers travelling from Alsager. There is no problem with issuing Penalty Fares to passengers travelling to Alsager, provided that all of the other pre-requisites are met.

/thread
 

Starmill

Veteran Member
Associate Staff
Events Co-ordinator
Joined
18 May 2012
Messages
16,129
Location
Manchester
I see very frequently passengers who join trains and are sold the ticket they could and should have bought before boarding without a problem. In some cases this also happens in Penalty Fare areas. Not exactly a surprise.
 

A1

Member
Joined
20 Dec 2012
Messages
126
Yep, see it frequently on LM where people board without ticket and friendly guard offers one onboard (sometimes with a gentle warning about purchasing before hand)

I just don't like the tone of the TF post. Just proves how useless they really are.
 

DaleCooper

Established Member
Joined
2 Mar 2015
Messages
3,403
Location
No.664 - Next door to the Beast
I just don't like the tone of the TF post. Just proves how useless they really are.

What's wrong with the tone?

Mr L was returning to his home in Alsager from Crewe by train with London Midland.

Mr L had used this route before, in previous years, but going in the opposite direction – Alsager to Crewe. As Alsager doesn’t have ticket purchasing facilities, Mr L was used to buying his on board the train.

On this day, Mr L arrived at Crewe station and went straight to the platform to board the train, intending to purchase a ticket from the guard. However, rather than being offered the chance to buy a ticket, Mr L was issued with a Penalty Fare Notice.

Transport Focus has repeatedly called for train operators to show some discretion where innocent mistakes have been made. We believe that it would be far more reasonable to give a warning and opportunity to pay, and an explanation in simple terms of what went wrong. Simply reiterating the terms and conditions is not particularly clear or helpful.

As it was clear that Mr L was unaware of the requirement to buy a ticket before boarding, and given that he was used to buying on board, we asked London Midland to consider refunding his Penalty Fare as a gesture of goodwill.

Although the Penalty Fare was technically issued correctly, we explained to London Midland that this case echoes the points we raised in our Ticket to Ride report and discussed the benefits of education over penalising the passenger. However, despite our strength of feeling and numerous appeals, London Midland was unwilling to consider our request.

Strictly speaking, the Penalty Fare Notice was issued correctly and as such Transport Focus cannot instruct London Midland to overturn this. However, we were disappointed that more discretion wasn’t shown in this clear example of the lack of consistency across journeys catching passengers out.

Seems reasonable to me and on the passenger's side
 

Agent_c

Member
Joined
22 Jan 2015
Messages
933
I don't understand the problem here. The passenger travelled from Crewe, there is no mention of a previous train. Is the lack of a TVM at Alsager of any relevance?

Only in that its built an expectation in the passengers mind that he is within his rights to buy on board.
 

Agent_c

Member
Joined
22 Jan 2015
Messages
933
It seems a damned if you do, damned if you don't situation to me.

The problem that this case highlights is inconsistency in the system. Whats a valid way to buy a ticket one way isn't neccessarily valid in reverse. Some TOCs are easy going allowing anyone to buy on board or at the destination, even if there is a ticket counter at the origin, some demand you break your journey and go out of your way to get one when there isn't.

I don't think ultimately there is an easy answer to this. Staffing every halt on every line in the country for the handful of people who might use it isn't viable. Letting everyone just pay on the train also isn't viable as the dodgers will take advantage of it (plus some of the TOCs seem to want the 'ticket man' to be an optional extra).

Can't rely on signs, as people don't read them.

The only solution I can see is a system where if you show ID, the RPI or whoever runs your name in "the datapbase", and if your name comes up clear, then you get the benefit of the doubt and just pay the right fare - next time its treated as intentional dodging as you were specifically told the right way.

Don't want to show ID? Fine, you don't get the benefit of the doubt (PTP).
 

All Line Rover

Established Member
Joined
17 Feb 2011
Messages
5,054
It seems a damned if you do, damned if you don't situation to me.

On the part of the passenger or on the part of the TOC?

What is difficult or unreasonable about having a Penalty Fares scheme where every station has TVMs but Penalty Fares are not charged if passengers inform the guard when boarding (e.g. to accommodate those who arrived at the station one minute before departure, or where they is a queue for the TVM)? A simple and consistent approach that would be easy for passengers to understand.
 

Agent_c

Member
Joined
22 Jan 2015
Messages
933
On the part of the passenger or on the part of the TOC?

What is difficult or unreasonable about having a Penalty Fares scheme where every station has TVMs but Penalty Fares are not charged if passengers inform the guard when boarding (e.g. to accommodate those who arrived at the station one minute before departure, or where they is a queue for the TVM)? A simple and consistent approach that would be easy for passengers to understand.

That works on the faulty assumption we're going to install TVMs that take cash at every station in the UK, and have every station in a penalty fares area.

We're not going to have that, so some people are always going to get caught out.
 

All Line Rover

Established Member
Joined
17 Feb 2011
Messages
5,054
That works on the faulty assumption we're going to install TVMs that take cash at every station in the UK...

Or, given that cash-capable TVMs are understandably laborious, there could be a sign stating: "If paying by cash, you must purchase from the guard when boarding (the guard is located at the [REAR] of the train). Otherwise you will be charged a Penalty Fare."
 
Last edited:

MikeWh

Established Member
Associate Staff
Senior Fares Advisor
Joined
15 Jun 2010
Messages
6,453
Location
Crayford
I have to say that I share TF's disappointment. If someone lives near a non-PF station and always has to buy on board because there are no facilities at that station, it seems harsh in the extreme to charge them a PF on the one occasion that they travel only in reverse for some reason. Maybe the rules should be changed such that PFs cannot be issued in either direction when one end of the journey has no facilities. If the TOC doesn't like that then they can cost the solution of providing facilities and thus including the station in the PF scheme.
 

arb

Member
Joined
31 Oct 2010
Messages
327
A journey I made yesterday evening from Bourne End station (not somewhere I've ever been before, and doubt I will again!) had the potential to touch on some of the issues mentioned in this thread. The ticket office was closed with an alternative route to the platforms, as happens at many small stations outside peak hours.

I happened to peer inside the ticket office before heading to the platform and recognised a standard penalty fare warning sign inside the ticket office, but it wasn't exactly readable from outside if you'd never come across these signs before. There was nothing on the route I actually had to take to the platforms indicating that it was a penalty fare station.

Further, the TVM on the platform had a notice on it saying that due to vandalism, it no longer accepted cash, and you could only buy tickets with cards.

I already had a ticket, so all of this was irrelevant to me, but it did leave me thinking that there was plenty of opportunity for confusion/misunderstanding of the situation regarding penalty fares for somebody who wanted to pay in cash, and/or who hadn't encountered the concept of penalty fares before.

Does anybody ever check that TOCs are adhering to their side of the penalty fare bargain, and are providing clear signage and full ticket purchasing opportunities? Who defines exactly what constitutes a suitably placed warning sign? (I don't feel that this was, but I don't know the rules in detail!) Is a card-only TVM at a penalty fare station acceptable?
 

sheff1

Established Member
Joined
24 Dec 2009
Messages
4,931
Location
Sheffield
Does anybody ever check that TOCs are adhering to their side of the penalty fare bargain, and are providing clear signage ...

It would appear not. Or, if they do, nothing happens when a breach of the PF rules is identified. EMT introduced PFs in 2009 but, at Sheffield at least, have never displayed warning notices in the manner prescribed by the rules.
 

FenMan

Member
Joined
13 Oct 2011
Messages
1,013
Returning to the subject of this thread, Guards on Penalty Fare routes selling tickets on board, I would suggest that rewards continue to drive behaviour.

Which is why I'd dare to say that the guards happily selling tickets on my local line, which for the most part is subject to penalty fares, are not being altruistic!
 

plymothian

Member
Joined
26 Sep 2010
Messages
669
Location
Plymouth
...or the hassle of dealing with a ticketless passenger is not worth more than just issuing a ticket.
 
Last edited:

LowLevel

Established Member
Joined
26 Oct 2013
Messages
5,064
For what it's worth you can sell a ticket with a gentle or stern reminder about buying a ticket and still, even though you've done them a ticket regardless, get abused or get comments about being a jobsworth etc.

Why would I want to bother to subject myself to this for the sake of a scheme which is rarely enforced and which I have little to do with anyway.

For what it's worth, I do still warn people. But it changes nothing until they're bleating away in the disputes and prosecutions forum one day having been caught by a actual nasty revenue inspector rather than just a guard who wants to get home intact.
 

furlong

Established Member
Joined
28 Mar 2013
Messages
2,382
Location
Reading
Who defines exactly what constitutes a suitably placed warning sign? (I don't feel that this was, but I don't know the rules in detail!)

The rules state:

4 Displaying warning notices
These warning notices ... must be displayed so that at least one notice can be clearly seen by any passenger joining any penalty fares train or changing onto a penalty fares train from any other train.

If that's not the case:

7.3 An authorised collector must not charge a penalty fare under rule 6.2 if any of the following circumstances applied at the station where the person joined the relevant train.
...
b Warning notices were not displayed in line with rule 4.

and the DfT would likely have reasonable grounds to issue a prohibition notice suspending the scheme in respect of that station.
 

Mojo

Forum Staff
Staff Member
Administrator
Joined
7 Aug 2005
Messages
18,482
Location
0035
As far as I'm concerned, arguing over the technical details and what effectively amount to "get out clauses" in the DfT's Penalty fare scheme rules and policy as well as individual Toc Penalty fare policies is a complete waste of time given that a Toc could, if it so wishes, go ahead with a Byelaw prosecution which offers much less protection for customers than a Penalty fare.
 

Bletchleyite

Veteran Member
Joined
20 Oct 2014
Messages
65,708
Location
"Marston Vale mafia"
As far as I'm concerned, arguing over the technical details and what effectively amount to "get out clauses" in the DfT's Penalty fare scheme rules and policy as well as individual Toc Penalty fare policies is a complete waste of time given that a Toc could, if it so wishes, go ahead with a Byelaw prosecution which offers much less protection for customers than a Penalty fare.

Or indeed use the threat of such a prosecution to "offer" a Northern-style Penalty Fake.
 

Starmill

Veteran Member
Associate Staff
Events Co-ordinator
Joined
18 May 2012
Messages
16,129
Location
Manchester
The fact that they could go for a Byelaw offence and win with someone who doesn't realise it's illegitimate to purchase onboard signifies that the Byelaws are unjust. As far as I'm concerned ;)
 

furlong

Established Member
Joined
28 Mar 2013
Messages
2,382
Location
Reading
a Toc could, if it so wishes, go ahead with a Byelaw prosecution which offers much less protection for customers than a Penalty fare.

If someone had lots of money to waste, that might lead to some interesting legal arguments.

(As far as I can tell, when the Penalty Fares legislation was debated and passed by Parliament, the penalties for breaching those byelaws were different and there was little point in any prosecutions - RORA was always used instead. Subsequently I think the DfT approved changes to the byelaws that introduced financial penalties but, as you observe, with far fewer protections than Parliament had provided for with Penalty Fares schemes. Curiously, an FOI request relating to this matter turned up nothing, despite an apparent necessity to have considered the potential conflict before approving the byelaw changes.)
 

bb21

Forum Staff
Staff Member
Global Moderator
Joined
4 Feb 2010
Messages
24,002
If someone had lots of money to waste, that might lead to some interesting legal arguments.

(As far as I can tell, when the Penalty Fares legislation was debated and passed by Parliament, the penalties for breaching those byelaws were different and there was little point in any prosecutions - RORA was always used instead. Subsequently I think the DfT approved changes to the byelaws that introduced financial penalties but, as you observe, with far fewer protections than Parliament had provided for with Penalty Fares schemes. Curiously, an FOI request relating to this matter turned up nothing, despite an apparent necessity to have considered the potential conflict before approving the byelaw changes.)

I can't look atm but what were the relevant timelines for those approved changes?
 

BestWestern

Established Member
Joined
6 Feb 2011
Messages
6,736
I agree. If a station is in a Penalty Fare zone, discounted tickets shouldn't be offered to those who have boarded without buying. Full stop. This ought to be made clear company policy and Guards expected to ahere to it (as I believe happens at SWT?). What is also required is far better publicity, stronger signage - displayed inside trains as well just on the platforms, so that staff can actually refer passengers to the information - sufficient that there is a general awareness and understanding amongst passengers.

The current situation in many areas is along the lines of 'you can buy on board unless Revenue are about', which is deeply unfair and, in any other legal context, would pretty much deem the whole PF system null and void, I would think.
 
Status
Not open for further replies.

Top