Dear Forum I am sure you have heard these stories a million times but I would like to recant what is happening to me at the moment. I travel around the country every single week on the national rail service for business and spend thousands of pounds a year to do this with various private rail companies. The journey in question was a local one with only one stop and would have cost no more than £5.00 return – very much affordable for me and therefore I had no reason to attempt to do this without a ticket. In addition, as this is a regular local journey I make, I am fully aware that there are barriers in place at Shrewsbury and it is accepted practice at the station (facilities are always provided) to pay for a ticket at the end of the journey. I have made this journey many times and seen many people paying for a ticket in this way before going through the barriers. On the day in question, I was riding my bicycle to Wellington Station. I arrived at the station (as I always do) 10 minutes early in order to purchase a ticket from the ticket office. When I got to the ticket office, there were two people in front of me – one Gentleman and a woman at the booth. This woman was in a lengthy debate or complaint about her tickets with the ticket seller so I waited in the queue, as I should do. It was evident that the woman’s complaint was a complex one as it was not being resolved quickly. I was waiting patiently in the queue (as I imagine CCTV will attest to), in order to purchase my ticket. By this time, there were only 3 minutes until my train arrived and the woman was still trying to have her complaint resolved. I was aware that my train was due at any moment and I considered going to the platform on the other side of the station where there was an automated ticket machine. However, I had my bicycle (which is expensive) and thought that, as I did not want to leave it unattended, it would not be possible for me to carry it up and down 4 flights of stairs, get my ticket, and then carry the bike back up and down four flights of stairs without missing my train. Therefore, I stood by the ticket office just in case I could get to the front of the queue in time. Just as I saw my train pulling into Wellington, the lady had finished and the gentleman in front of me was purchasing his ticket which he just did before the train stopped at the station. This left me no time to purchase mine as I would have missed my train. I am also aware that in clauses 4.2 and 4.11 of the penalty fare rules, passengers must be given "sufficent opportunity" to buy a ticket and that regular queues over three minutes (off-peak) and five minutes (peak) breach the definition of what is "sufficient". My waiting time at the ticket office was significantly over this time. Once I boarded the train, I was on the lookout for the conductor to pay my fare whilst travelling. Unfortunately, no conductor passed me whilst I was sitting on the train (I could not leave my bike to find the conductor as it was not possible to ensure it did not fall over into the aisle and therefore become a hazard to other passengers). Once the train arrived at Shrewsbury, I carried my bike down the steps with my Bank Card in hand ready to purchase my ticket from attendant by the ticket barrier (which a number of other people behind me were also doing). As I was standing there in the process of purchasing my ticket (having initiated the process with the attendant), I was tapped on the shoulder by the ticket inspector and he asked to have a word with me. I gladly did so as I did not feel concerned in any way that I had done anything wrong. He asked me to explain why I was purchasing a ticket now and I explained to him the events I have done so above. At that moment, he became a little aggressive with me, stating quite forcefully that he was going to fine me. He asked me why I didn’t purchase one from the conductor and I told him that no conductor passed me whilst I was on the train – he then told me it was my responsibility to find the conductor and at this point I was feeling very upset as I felt I was being accused of being a ‘Fare dodger’ which I have never done, or was intending to do at that point. It was evident to me that I was purchasing a ticket at the time he tapped me on the shoulder and therefore there was absolutely no attempt on my behalf to avoid paying the fare. In addition, there were a number of people behind me in the same position as I was and these were not apprehended and allowed to purchase their tickets! I am aware that the Regulation of Railways Act 1889 states that there has to be an intent to avoid payment. I imagine that standing with the barrier attendant with my bank card in my hand and starting the payment process before being apprehended by the inspector indicates VERY clearly that there was no intent on my part to avoid payment. In addition, it was not as if I could have leaped over the barriers and ‘done a runner’ as I had my bike with me! To support this, I eventually purchased the ticket I needed to (a return ticket!) and left the station. Overall, I believe that I was singled out unnecessarily when there were many others behind who had also done the same and were queuing to pay for the ticket at the end of the journey. The inspector himself was overly aggressive and I felt I was being treated as criminal and I was very tempted to put in a formal complaint against him as his manner was very provoking. I believe that I had made all efforts to pay for a ticket (as I should have done) and do not believe a summons is required in this instance. This is essentially what I put in my appeal letter and this is what they said in return: ' The rail company reports that you had failed to pay the correct fare (correct, because of the reasons above) and had boarded a train with the intention of travelling without having previously paid the correct amount. This may be summoned for hearing before a Magistrate's Court. 'When asked to show a valid ticket, it is alleged that you failed to do so (again, correct as stated earlier) and (here is the killer) I failed to pay the appropriate fare due in accordance with the rules in force' They are now going to summons me and I am frightened I will get a criminal record. I paid the ticket before I left the station and was informed that my fine would be around £20.00. Now I am terrified! Apologies for the length of this post but any thoughts would very appreciated!