HS1 penalty fare today. Confused

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markbigears

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Hi guys, first post, wondered if you have any views on this.

I have used the high speed HS1 from the very first day of introduction and this is the first time I have encountered this situation.

I commute daily starting in the morning at GRAVSEND, but travel back to HIGHAM in the evening.
This means that I have to get a valid ticket at the counter as the machine cannot issue a return ticket back to Higham.
Recently, I assume because of the time of day I travel, one side of the station the counter is now closed almost permanently and other side
Is down to one counter. This creates a queue most days and at least once a week I have to board the train without a valid ticket.

For the past 2 years, if I board without a valid ticket I seek out the On-Board-Manager, who, without exception, issues me a valid ticket from his personal machine.
(This is their own advice)

This has been the case until today, when I boarded the train without a ticket after many minutes of queuing. Upon entering, I saw what I thought was the On-Board-Manger
And asked for my usual, HS1 WITH TRAVEL CARD, WITH NETWORK CARD FROM HIGHAM. I was then informed that I would be fined for not having a valid ticket to travel.
I explained the above, but no avail.

Confused I asked if she was the OBM to which she replied, “No, revenue Inspector”. I asked for the OBM, and after 5 minutes wait he arrived. By this time the Inspector had left the train.
I explained the situation, and he told me, he had personally issued at least 5 tickets to travel from GRAVESEND and that if he had seen me earlier he would have issued me one too.
He said he didn’t think the revenue Inspector should have fined me, but could not do anything now as it was issued, but suggested I appealed.

So after 2 years on the HS1, I’m now at a loss of the facts on boarding without a ticket?

In the past the OBM’s have told me, that If I board without a valid ticket, to seek them out and they will issue one to me. (which I have done on numerous occasions)

But now the Revenue Inspector informs me that I will be fined if I don’t have a valid ticket.

But then the OBM tells me they are wrong and should not have fined me and to appeal.

There seems to be a grey area on the HS1. The OBM’s are all about customer service (and by their own admission, have a machine to issue tickets) and are fantastic,
Indeed I know many of them by name. The Revenue Inspectors are clearly working to issuing fines no matter the situation and treat you as a fare evader

Any thoughts, I am going to appeal, but don't hold much hope.
Mark
 
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142094

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If the ticket office is open, then you need to buy a ticket before boarding the train. There is a grey area about how long you need to wait in a queue, so I'll let someone else comment about that.

Have you actually received a letter yet? Might be best to wait until you do so we have the full details.
 

transportphoto

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You should buy a ticket then get it overdistance excessed later . The RPI was right to issue the penalty fare in my opinion. You must buy a ticket to cover your immediate travel at the first opportunity, this is at Gravsend.

TP
 

telstarbox

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I commute daily starting in the morning at GRAVSEND, but travel back to HIGHAM in the evening.
This means that I have to get a valid ticket at the counter as the machine cannot issue a return ticket back to Higham.
Hi Mark,

If you commute daily is there a reason why you don't use a season ticket starting at Higham?
 

markbigears

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Many thanks for your replies. I travel off peak every day, sometimes only 4 days a week so it's cheaper to buy daily. I understand what you guys are saying about I should always buy a ticket before I travel, and indeed i always try to do, but when one side is always closed at this time and the main office is down to one counter, I regularly have to wait sometimes up to 10 minutes for a ticket. But this isn't my issue. My issue is On Board Managers are telling me It's Ok to board without a valid ticket (2 years of no problems) and will issue me one, but revenue have today fined me today for the first time.
 

Brucey

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Hi Mark,

If you commute daily is there a reason why you don't use a season ticket starting at Higham?
If the OP is using a Network Railcard, I would assume all their travel is off peak. Therefore £13.35 * 5 days is cheaper than £116.70 for a weekly season.
 

Stigy

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The queue time is certainly a grey area, but if you think you've waited too long, I'd suggest an appeal on these grounds. The rules are that you need to buy before you board, where facilities allow. The Guard/TM should explain these rules whenever s/he sells a ticket. Guards/TMs will sell tickets as that's, to all intents and purposes, all the can do.

Also, which I believe Dave is getting at, you won't have been fined, as only a court can issue these. You more than likely would have been Penalty Fared. Also, just to add, you need to either pay or appeal within the alloted timeframe, otherwise the notice could be cancelled, and a summons issued instead. If your appeal is rejected, then your best bet is to pay up and bear it in mind for future journeys I'm afraid.
 

transportphoto

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What are the queues like at the ticket vending machines? You can buy a ticket from these and then get it excessed back to Higham later in the day at any National Rail ticket office, asking for an overdistance excess. It is against the law to not obtain a valid ticket or permit to travel where facilities exist when travelling, regardless of queue length.

Byelaw 18 said:
(1) In any area not designated as a compulsory ticket area, no person shall enter
any train for the purpose of travelling on the railway unless he has with him a
valid ticket entitling him to travel.

(2) A person shall hand over his ticket for inspection and verification of validity
when asked to do so by an authorised person.

(3) No person shall be in breach of Byelaw 18(1) or 18(2) if:

(i) there were no facilities in working order for the issue or
validation of any ticket at the time when, and the station where,
he began his journey; or

(ii) there was a notice at the station where he began his journey
permitting journeys to be started without a valid ticket; or

(iii) an authorised person gave him permission to travel without a
valid ticket.
There were working facilities at your starting point to issue you a ticket, there will not probably be any notices telling you can start your journey with out a ticket and no authorised person had given you permission to travel without a valid ticket, regardless of previous advice. I would suggest that you pay the penalty fare as you are in breach of these byelaws and if you don't this could develop further, the PF has been issued correctly. Sorry.

TP
 

LexyBoy

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Rather poor, if well meant, advice from the guards there. A PF is very much due in your situation.

Buying the next day's ticket from the guard or at the station on your return might be the easiest option, or the excess described above if not possible (this could be a hassle to get done in a way which does not incur additional expense though).
Were you really 'fined'? Or just issued with a Penalty Fare? Or other notice to pay?
Sounds like OP was really 'fined' but not 'fined' in a legal sense. They were issued a PF of a sum well in excess of the usual fare.
 

markbigears

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The machines are usually busy too. I have in the past tried to get my ticket extended, this causes problems as the handheld machines they use on the HS1 try to get me to ask for extra payment, when indeed with a travel card the extra station journey is the same price. I have tried believe me, all I want to do is get to work .But the issue is this .... if I board the "slow" north Kent line WITHOUT a ticket, I know full well, if a inspector gets on I will get a fixed penalty fare (sorry, was calling it a fine). But the HS1, is different in respect this is used by mainly commuters and not people dodging fares as per the North Kent line. Like I said, for 2 years I have travelled on this with the express understanding from the OBM's that I can obtain a ticket if the station is busy. (the southEastern charter says in black and white on their webpage - 3 minutes busy times (peak), 5 minutes max (off peak) is the time you should wait to get a ticket from the counter). The main problem is they have recently cut back their staff to 1 at off peak times, which is causing major problems. Fortuately I work in the media and have emailed someone at HS1 for confirmation. A few of you seem to be under the impression that i'm try to evade payment. For one, i'm a professional person, commuting to work and two, you can't dodge a fare on HS1 because of the OBMs walk up and down checking tickets. What I'm try to get across is, somewhere in the training / management structure miss information is being given, either by the OBM's and have been for 2 years, which I find confusing or the Revenue Inspectors work to a different set of rules.
 

Monty

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Many thanks for your replies. I travel off peak every day, sometimes only 4 days a week so it's cheaper to buy daily. I understand what you guys are saying about I should always buy a ticket before I travel, and indeed i always try to do, but when one side is always closed at this time and the main office is down to one counter, I regularly have to wait sometimes up to 10 minutes for a ticket. But this isn't my issue. My issue is On Board Managers are telling me It's Ok to board without a valid ticket (2 years of no problems) and will issue me one, but revenue have today fined me today for the first time.
Did the train manager/guard actually say "it's okay your allowed to board trains with out purchasing a ticket becuase one side of the station was closed?" Or are you just assuming that is the case becuase they have sold you tickets in the past. Guards (who can) will always sell tickets as they do not have the ability to issue penalty fares. The guard should be selling you a standard day tickets with no discount (as instructed in Condition 2 of the NRCoC) and a penalty fare warning issued (SWT do, I'm not sure if SE do this or not though) as you still had the opportunity at Gravesend to purchase a ticket.

If one window is still open, there are still facilities for which you can purchase the ticket you want. If you are a regular traveller as you say and you do indeed seem to be aware aware of the situation at the station all I can suggest is you mention the ticket office facilities (or lack of) to South Eastern's customer service and leave a little extra time in the future to purchase your tickets. Sounds a bit blunt I know but put it this way, if you don't wish to queue what about the other poor souls waiting in line?
 

markbigears

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Just received a response from Media Relations Officer to say they are looking in to it and will get back to me, but were sorry for the situation I encountered this morning. I just want clarification for future travel use!
 

Greenback

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There are many areas in the UK where on train staff are very happy to sell tickets on board to anyone who needs one, and to sell discounted tickets.

This doesn't alter the fact that it is technically a breach of the byelaws to board a train without a ticket when there are facilities to purchase one beforehand.

I hope you get clarification from SET on what to do if you have to wait for 10 minutes off peak, but in my experience it's rather hard to pin down TOC's in these sort of situations.
 

b0b

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There are many areas in the UK where on train staff are very happy to sell tickets on board to anyone who needs one, and to sell discounted tickets.
And there are plenty areas of the UK where it seems to be so normal that nobody would think they could receive a criminal conviction for doing so and the guard gives no impression that you've done anything wrong.
 

markbigears

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HS1 (this is the high speed network, just for clarification, do not have "guards", they have On-Board-Managers. These guys are trained to an amazing level of customer service that if you have not used this train you will have not encountered before. They will help and advise on any query you could possibly have and as such when for the past 2 years have "advised" me and fellow passengers to seek them out if you haven't a ticket from your station. They can issue penalty fares, but rarely do as they try to be nice guys and understand that some situations are not all black and white. I will be having a discussion with the area manager of SouthEastern to point out the current staffing issues at Gravesend.
 

Greenback

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And there are plenty areas of the UK where it seems to be so normal that nobody would think they could receive a criminal conviction for doing so and the guard gives no impression that you've done anything wrong.
I suspect this is because in areas like mine it is normal, and no one would ever receive a penalty fare or a threat of prosecution for it.

This, of course, leads to confusion when a resident of Carmarthenshire ( for example), travels in other areas with certain TOC's!
--- old post above --- --- new post below ---
HS1 (this is the high speed network, just for clarification, do not have "guards", they have On-Board-Managers. These guys are trained to an amazing level of customer service that if you have not used this train you will have not encountered before. They will help and advise on any query you could possibly have and as such when for the past 2 years have "advised" me and fellow passengers to seek them out if you haven't a ticket from your station. They can issue penalty fares, but rarely do as they try to be nice guys and understand that some situations are not all black and white. I will be having a discussion with the area manager of SouthEastern to point out the current staffing issues at Gravesend.
HS1 is not the only place you can find excellent and helpful members of staff. But the fact remains that they are not telling you the whole story. As you have discovered, if you encounter an RPI they will, more than likely, go by the book, and the book says that you are in breach of the byelaws and liable to a penalty fare.

I'm not saying it's morally right, but that is the way that it is. As has been said, the best grounds for apepaling a PF may be the excessive wait at the booking office window, but the TOC may well dispute this.
 

156402

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SE's Penalty Fare section on the their website makes no mention of the fact Highspeed is any different than their domestic services. Therefore, you must assume that you need a ticket prior to travel.
 

Greenback

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SE's Penalty Fare section on the their website makes no mention of the fact Highspeed is any different than their domestic services. Therefore, you must assume that you need a ticket prior to travel.
It isn't any different in that respect. Although the OBM's are trying to provide good service, the effect is the reverse, as they are unintentionally leaving their customers open to what has happened to the OP. I've no doubt their motives are well intentioned though.
 

142094

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There will be the exact same problem when Northern start enforcing the 'buy your ticket before boarding at staffed stations' rule, which I have been told is happening soon.
 

Mike395

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I believe (although could be wrong) that HS guards are PACE trained and can report a passenger for fare evasion if they wish as well as PF them - however as pointed out previously, the vast majority prefer to sell someone a ticket - better customer service and also far less time consuming!
 

156402

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It isn't any different in that respect. Although the OBM's are trying to provide good service, the effect is the reverse, as they are unintentionally leaving their customers open to what has happened to the OP. I've no doubt their motives are well intentioned though.
Problem is in trying to provide good service is that they are consistently giving out wrong information. As a daily traveller from North Kent on HS services, I am appauled at shockingly bad information given out on board on the PA. Classic example tonight is being advised to 'change at Ebbsfleet for Gravesend and Strood' on a next stop Rochester service except the next train is not for over 90 minutes! Other times, stations that the service is not booked to call at are being announced as the next stop manually by the OBM.

Same applies at St Pancras, Stratford and Ebbsfleet with poor info. Despite being over 2 years into HS services, the on the ground staff are still very naive! In fact, most were taken off the street and had no railway background.
 

markbigears

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I don't know what PACE trained is, but they really are a great bunch. Like I said earlier, I know most of these guys and girls and they are fantastic. Their whole ethos is based on customer service and a top quality experience. Which Is why today I was confused that they are ALL giving the same wrong advice for so long? I just don't understand. I will get to the bottom of it though.
 

spacehopper

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So its a DOO service, in a penalty fare area but not TE they are an OBM? An OBM sells tickets but is also PACE trained and can issue penalty fares? These guys aren't safety critical but are on more money than guards? What a mish mash set up!
 

Greenback

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Problem is in trying to provide good service is that they are consistently giving out wrong information. As a daily traveller from North Kent on HS services, I am appauled at shockingly bad information given out on board on the PA. Classic example tonight is being advised to 'change at Ebbsfleet for Gravesend and Strood' on a next stop Rochester service except the next train is not for over 90 minutes! Other times, stations that the service is not booked to call at are being announced as the next stop manually by the OBM.

Same applies at St Pancras, Stratford and Ebbsfleet with poor info. Despite being over 2 years into HS services, the on the ground staff are still very naive! In fact, most were taken off the street and had no railway background.
Indeed, I have experienced people in the past whose desire to help was so strong that they didn't realise that they were actually achieving the opposite.

Not infomring passengers of their responsibility to buy before boarding when the company operates a PF scheme with roving RPI's is a classic example, probably one of the best there could be.

The best way to do it, is to advise passengers that they are liable to a penalty fare while selling them a ticket. Consistently selling discounted tickets without this advice leaves the passenger open to a nasty shock one day. And of course, it's the RPI that is considered wrong by the passenger, rather than the OBM's!
 

Monty

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HS1 (this is the high speed network, just for clarification, do not have "guards".
Let's call a spade a spade shall we? When someone uses the term guard people will know what you are talking about.

They will help and advise on any query you could possibly have and as such when for the past 2 years have "advised" me and fellow passengers to seek them out if you haven't a ticket from your station.
This isn't the same as saying "it's okay to board a train without a ticket", it's the very least you should be doing should find yourself on a train without a ticket, however it doesn't make you immune to a penalty fare either.

They can issue penalty fares, but rarely do as they try to be nice guys and understand that some situations are not all black and white.
You sure 5% commission of ticket sales perhaps doesn't help them make up their mind either? RPI's also know that situations are not always black and white and despite what you or others may think, most of them are rational human beings doing a job for which they were employed for..

As for guards in other parts of the UK selling tickets, please do not forget there are many parts of the country where the guard is the only point of contact for passengers on lines that serve isolated areas where stations have no ticket offices/TVMs. It's a bit different down south where you can't go 100 yards without walking into someones back garden. ;)
 

156402

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OBM's don't get 5% of their revenue sales due to their grading / higher wages than a 'standard domestic' conductor
 

Monty

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OBM's don't get 5% of their revenue sales due to their grading / higher wages than a 'standard domestic' conductor
Surprising since they have less responsibility than a guard if they are not safety critical... :|

Here's a question, what is the point of having RPI's patrol a train if the OBMs are trained issuing penalty fares and the reporting of offences? Unless SET know the staff on HS1 are less inclinde to do so? :?:
 

island

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Not infomring passengers of their responsibility to buy before boarding when the company operates a PF scheme with roving RPI's is a classic example, probably one of the best there could be.

The best way to do it, is to advise passengers that they are liable to a penalty fare while selling them a ticket. Consistently selling discounted tickets without this advice leaves the passenger open to a nasty shock one day. And of course, it's the RPI that is considered wrong by the passenger, rather than the OBM's!
Aren't they supposed to give a printed penalty fares warning when selling on board a penalty fares train?
 
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