GWR Prosecutions

Discussion in 'Disputes & Prosecutions' started by Bigyid, 30 Sep 2019.

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  1. Bigyid

    Bigyid Member

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    Hi,

    Not sure if anyone can offer advice but I seem to banging my head against a brick wall regarding a fine my daughter received!

    Details are... She went to our local station to buy a ticket and bought it from the machine but no tickets were issued (she has proof of payment) She then tried to find a member of staff but desk was closed and no one on platform! Train came and she got on and was going to speak with someone at Exeter station, bare in mind you cannot leave the station without a valid ticket due to electronic gates.

    GWR have now got prosecution officers on trains now and they basically don’t care what your excuse is or if you have proof! They just fine you! There were another 3 people who had same problem as my daughter, saying ticket machine took money but no tickets were printed... They all got fines along with my daughter. She even offered to pay the fare there and then but the prosecution officer refused and handed her a £85.50 fine.

    Now emails have been sent with pictures of ticket machine, bank statements, picture my daughter took of fine paper and a ten pound note, with prosecution officer just smiling! But they are still refusing to cancel fine and are now going to add another £160 on top of not paid by the 7/10 and take her to court.

    Anyone who has dealt with these people will know you can only email them! Payment line phone number will not discuss any cases and will only accept full payment and emails are useless as they won’t listen! GWR customer service have nothing to do with “prosecution revenue” so are unable to help!

    My daughter suffers from severe anxiety and depression and this is tipping her over the edge, it’s a constant worry.
     
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  3. Fawkes Cat

    Fawkes Cat Member

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    Welcome to the forum.

    Your daughter's health is something that you and your daughter will know, and which we can only speculate about. But if avoiding cause for anxiety is the main issue, then I think we must advise that you pay the £85.50 and try to move on.

    There are another couple of routes that i would suggest, in what I think would be increasing levels of stress:

    1) Pay the £85.50 now (as above) but raise a formal complaint with GWR about their approach. This will be of added stress because it's not just putting the issue in the past, but the stress will be limited in that if at any point it becomes intolerable then you can just abandon the matter and walk away.
    2) Do not pay the £85.50 or the increased amount: instead challenge the railway to take your daughter to court, where they will, to get a conviction have to show not just that your daughter travelled without having a ticket but that she had failed to take an opportunity to buy a ticket. If I have read your posting correctly, the broken ticket machine means that even if your daughter paid her fare she couldn't buy a ticket. The benefit of this approach is that it could well leave your daughter without a stain on her character. The drawback is that once matters have gone beyond GWR offering the chance to settle, you don't control the process and you can't just make it stop.

    Other with more knowledge than me should be along shortly to explain the legal positions around penalty fares - which is what I think your daughter has been issued with. Again, consider how stressful the options for dealing with that will be.
     
  4. SeaKing

    SeaKing Member

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    Why should anyone have to pay twice when your money has been taken and 'no Goods Supplied-no ticket issued'.
     
  5. 30907

    30907 Established Member

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    Could you upload any relevant paperwork (redacted!), or otherwise confirm the amounts and journey involved?
     
  6. robert7111a

    robert7111a Established Member

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    Sounds like the machines ran out of paper (printable tickets). This is absurd practice by GWR and worthy of a swift complaint

    I'm sure one of the senior Fares Advisers will be along shortly to offer advice
     
  7. Haywain

    Haywain Established Member

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    That's actually highly unlikely as TVMs would go out of service if they had no ticket stock. It could, however, be some other fault.

    For the OP, did your daughter pay using cash or card at the TVM? If no ticket was issued* and payment taken by card this will be traceable on the statement, and if it was cash then the TVM should show a surplus of cash taken against tickets issued.

    *If there was a jam in the TVM and tickets were issued but not received this would not be the case, so it isn't foolproof.
     
  8. WesternLancer

    WesternLancer Member

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    Alternative course of action could be:

    Write to GWR customer services with the proofs of payment and full details of exact time and location of ticket machine used. Request they cease the prosecution. If they reply in the negative try referring it to Rail Ombudsman. Copy that to your MP - ask the MP to raise it with GWR Chief Exec maybe. If stressful for your daughter you could write the letters for her and ask her to sign them if she is in agreement with content.
     
  9. najaB

    najaB Veteran Member

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    If all is as reported then she has done nothing wrong.

    What is your local station?
     
  10. Bigyid

    Bigyid Member

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    Thanks for all the replies

    I have basically taken the advice of first post and just paid! My daughter’s health is more important!

    I will however be putting a formal complaint in - not that it will get me anywhere due to GWR not acknowledging any association with the “Revenue Protection unit” they simply give you the email for the said department!

    Emails to this team are fruitless! They simply don’t want to know!

    To others who have taken their time to reply, my daughter has proof the money was taken from her account (bank statement) She has proof machine was basically broken ( She has a picture of card reader, it seems machines card reader was basically stuck on “processing payment for ages and gave no tickets)

    She offered to pay for fare (picture of her holding money while he stood there smiling in front of her)

    Local station is Teignmouth, she spoke to someone at Exeter Central and explained ticket machine fault (I assume others did the same)

    With all this evidence eg: Bank statement that money was taken, picture of her trying to pay, picture of ticket machine card reader stuck! GWR revenue protection refuse to back down and are still insistent she traveled with no valid ticket!

    The whole process is crazy! No telephone support only email! We have sent near 20 emails disputing this and every time it’s the same robotic response!

    So everyone beware of GWR, they basically do away with conductors and put these revenue protection officers on trains and bully and intimidate young/old vulnerable people and laugh in your face!
     
  11. najaB

    najaB Veteran Member

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    You might find that you are successful, especially now that the threat of prosecution has been removed you can take a little more time to compose a complaint that captures the necessary detail.
     
  12. OxtedSignaller

    OxtedSignaller Member

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    They do have Conductors on the trains as well as Revenue Protection Inspectors whose job it is to deal with fare evasion, fraud and ticketless travel. I am not sure where your attitude has come from regarding them being bully boys or that they are not allowed to smile. They are simply doing their job as directed by GWR.

    Unfortunately there is a minority of people who choose not to pay for tickets many numerous times and will refuse to buy a ticket from the Conductor. I am not saying you or your daughter is one of them however I am sure you understand they do a worthwhile job and the company feels they are necessary to prevent fraud and loss of revenue.

    Your best bet is to wait for a resolution from GWR regarding your correspondence. If what you say is correct I would be surprised if they did not look upon it sympathetically.

    However if you have recieved a letter regarding the penalty fare increasing in value I can only imagine you ignored it at first and it has gone to the reminder stage which will not work in your favour as by simply ignoring it and not appealing they may believe that you agreed with their decision and did not wish to challenge it.
     
  13. 30907

    30907 Established Member

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    As part of your letter of complaint you could query the amount that was charged as a Penalty Fare - a check of current info online says the PF is £20 OR twice the ordinary single fare (£7.20 in this case) whichever is the greater.
    These are standard PF rules so unless GWR have been permitted to introduce a different system I don't see how they can ask for £85.50 on the spot.
     
  14. najaB

    najaB Veteran Member

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    I'm also puzzled by this, to be honest. To the OP, did the paperwork perhaps reference a different station by mistake?
     
  15. Fare-Cop

    Fare-Cop Member

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    This was perhaps the most useful post in the thread, but I cannot see where the OP uploaded anything.

    As it appears that the amount claimed (and now paid) was not the correct amount of a Penalty Fare, it would seem that this was not a Penalty Fare matter.

    That being the case, the Railways (Penalty Fares) Regulations would not be relevant.

    In order to pursue further ( and I agree that the OPs daughter could still do so ) it is essential to know exactly what the claimed payment refers to and how it is arrived at.

    If the suitably redacted paperwork can be uploaded, we will be able to see the details from the TOCs viewpoint and may be able to assist further
     
  16. WesternLancer

    WesternLancer Member

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    I suggest you now pursue this as per my advice, it's important for you to do that to help stop exactly the sort of issues that you are angry annoyed about. Probably stop sending them e-mails they ignore. Write a letter of complaint, enclose your evidence, send it registered post (or whatever that is called these days) to GWR customer services**. If their response is inadequate, go to the Rail Ombudsman, involve your MP.

    To get more helpful advice of other courses of action you will need to share the correspondence you have had. People here will help, as they often do. But yoy need to give them the information so they can advise you.

    ** Edit - or indeed to the MD as Western Sunset helpfully suggests below
     
    Last edited: 2 Oct 2019
  17. Western Sunset

    Western Sunset Member

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    I'd email the MD/CEO of GWR and explain the situation calmly but in detail.

    We had a problem with the Post Office recently and didn't get anywhere with their customer services. There weren't listening and we were just going round in circles. My wife found the email of their CEO and he replied within 10 mins - all on first name terms too. Maybe we got lucky but it all got sorted out very quickly after that.

    Go to the top. It seems crazy to me that this situation has gone on as far as it has.
     
  18. RPI

    RPI Member

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    If the cost was in excess of £80 then this must have been processed as an MG11 ( report for prosecution) which is what makes me wonder if there is more to this, if arriving at Exeter Central from Teignmouth then the standard procedure for an RPI would be to issue a Penalty Fare, not go straight to prosecution. GWR inspectors wear bodyworn CCTV which records video and sound and this would probably have been reviewed, so was it a case of a Penatly Fare was issued and it was ignored or is there something that we're (and maybe the op) hasn't been told?
     
  19. RPI

    RPI Member

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    Apologies for the poor grammar in my last post
     
  20. WesternLancer

    WesternLancer Member

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    Maybe, but when you look at cases like this - very badly handled by GWR - https://www.railforums.co.uk/threads/advice-on-pre-court-settlement-offer.179600/
    that you are very minded to give the OP the benefit of the doubt!
     
  21. packermac

    packermac Member

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    Happening to be in Melksham yesterday for business and wanting a picture of the station I happened to find one of their penalty fare notices displayed.
    So looking at that it refers you to the GWR website
    https://www.gwr.com/plan-journey/tickets-railcards-and-season-tickets/revenue-protection-policy

    Looking at this and the other two links to the full policy and buy before you board it details how you should buy a ticket, touches on what a conductor and RPI can do and even mentions a TVM failure. However other than some vague "we monitor queing times and authorised collectors are provided with info if ticket offices are closed during normal opening hours" it seems silent on the process for what you do if the TVM has failed or how you prove it.
    The implication seems to be you will either be penalised in some way (penalty fare or worse) depending if a conductor or RPI deals with you, or I suppose unsaid you should turn around and go home, or use a different mode of public transport.
    I assume this is not legal but would appear it was what has happened in the OP's case.
    Is this just and extra TOC revenue stream?
     
  22. Bigyid

    Bigyid Member

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    Sorry been away...

    My daughter was issued with an instant penalty notice of £80 plus £5.10 (cost of train fare) they are now doing this on a regular basis and 4 of them were stood at ticket gates today issuing fines!

    You get 28 days to pay or they take you to court and add more costs on!

    As stated before, I have sent several emails so each time they put case on hold until they have reviewed and made a decision.

    If you look at the Gwr website https://www.gwr.com/plan-journey/tickets-railcards-and-season-tickets/revenue-protection-policy

    It clearly states...

    “Where a station isn’t staffed, or the ticket machines aren’t working, you must pay for your journey at your earliest opportunity; either on board or at the first available station.”

    So they are basically ignoring there own advice and issuing fines without listening to their customers!

    Some may think there’s more to the story! I can assure you there’s not.. She received an on the spot fine of £80 plus £5.10 for fare, they wouldn’t listen to her “excuses” they wouldn’t listen to other people on same train and they wouldn’t except payment again on train.
     
  23. najaB

    najaB Veteran Member

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    While a fixed amount plus the fare is a convenient and simple way to resolve ticketing issues, it has no statutory basis.

    Now that it's been paid I would be insistent and persistent in getting it back since, based on what you've posted, there's no basis on which it can be justified.
     
  24. Parham Wood

    Parham Wood Member

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    In addition to getting your money back IMO you should ask for compensation for the incorrect application of the penalty fare, your time taken so far to question this matter and the inconvenience experienced. I would also write to your local MP and the report the matter to rail regulator. A letter to the local newspaper / Daily Mail about this would not go amiss. I.e. go in with all guns blazing. They should not be getting away with this.
     
  25. najaB

    najaB Veteran Member

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    That's actually what I meant by no statutory basis, it wasn't a penalty fare since that would have been £20.
     
  26. furlong

    furlong Established Member

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    Yes, please upload a copy of the paperwork issued at the station (with reference numbers, names etc. redacted) before the speculation on this thread runs away with itself!
     
  27. Rich McLean

    Rich McLean Established Member

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    It sounds like what you were issued was an out of court settlement off the bat, and not a Penalty fare. That said, you can now complain about being overcharged through Customer services and attempt to get a refund on the difference
     
  28. Bigyid

    Bigyid Member

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    Will upload ticket shortly..

    So if I’m reading this correctly, are GWR breaking the law by issuing £80 fines instead of £20? If so can anyone point me in the direction of said law.

    If anyone legally minded could possibly write us a brief email and I could add details too it, it would be greatly appreciated.

    Regarding GWR complaints, they don’t want to know! All correspondence should be sent to the “revenue protection team” they are a separate department and GWR CS won’t deal with any disputes or complaints!
     
  29. Kilopylae

    Kilopylae Member

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    Not technically. Rather than issuing a fine under the Penalty Fares Rules 2002, they are offering an out-of-court settlement. It's certainly sketchy, but it's within the law
     
  30. Bigyid

    Bigyid Member

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    Thanks for reply..

    Further investigation seems to show a lot of threads on different forums regarding the way GWR basically report customers for being in breach of S5(3) of the regulation of Railways act (1889) and /or Bylaw 18(1) of Railway bylaws.

    Daughter hasn’t got original fine paper, just a picture of her holding money and ticket after she was given it. I have the “Pre-Court Settlement Letter” Also Going by other people’s posts on a few forums it would seem others have tried to buy a ticket on trains but have been flatly refused and told it’s an offence to travel without a ticket!

    Now you would have to prove that you activity sought out the conductor to purchase a ticket or they could say you intended to travel without purchasing!

    So you would think proof of a bank statement with money deducted from GWR on said occasion would somewhat dispute the actual legality of this fine! She bought ticket but was not supplied, she asked to buy another ticket on train but was refused and reported and received a Pre-Court Settlement offer.

    Am I within my rights to request or all evidence eg: Video recordings
     
  31. Fare-Cop

    Fare-Cop Member

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    As Kilopylae has said, No, GWR are not breaking any law.

    It has been said 'ad nauseum' on this forum that a Penalty Fare is NOT a fine. I realise that it is a definite financial charge, so confusion is easily understood, but only the Courts have authority to impose fines.

    The Penalty Fare is a levy for failing to hold a valid ticket or pay at the first opportunity in areas where imposition of such penalties are authorised by DfT.

    There is no right for a passenger to be charged a Penalty Fare or to be issued any such notice. That is a matter for the RPI if s/he is an authorised person

    The decision to convert what they believed to be a prosecutable case to an administrative disposal (i.e; out of Court settlement) is entirely the prerogative of the Train Operating Company and that will be decided by the prosecution department. It is in the gift of their discretion to take that course of action if they wish. It is your right to refuse to accept that settlement opportunity and to have the case tested by a Magistrates Court hearing if the TOC continue to pursue the charge via a Summons. Once again, the decision to issue a Summons is up to the TOC.

    The TOC prosecution department ( or their agents in some cases ) will normally continually assess the evidence and any new information in any case and the likelihood of a successful prosecution being the outcome. They may choose to continue, or discontinue action at any time during this process.

    I cannot say for certain, but from 40-odd years experience, it seems to me that late on in the process, someone took a view and perhaps saw something that may have previously been overlooked, or some for other reason, concluded that they should not proceed.

    If the TOC decide not to proceed in cases where a Summons has been issued, they must advise the Court at which the case is listed that the matter is to be withdrawn.

    If a charge contrary to S.5.3 Regulation of Railways Act [1889] has been summonsed, then an AS Number will have been raised and allocated to the Summons and that will also need to be marked 'discontinued'. This should be done automatically, but it sometimes gets missed, so make sure that you check in a week or so, otherwise an apparently 'unresolved' matter may still appear on record.

    From the content of this thread, it seems to me that the TOC have done nothing wrong with regard to process, but on concluding the matter perhaps they could have given clear explanation of what to do in any future similar circumstance and at least a brief summary of why they decided to discontinue.

    They are not obliged to do so, but it might have helped.
     
    Last edited: 7 Oct 2019
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