Northern Rail Fare Evasion Letter received.

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alex89

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Hi all.

I have read a few posts on here and thought I would await my letter before posting, but now would look for a little advice if it is possible.

The facts are:

I was travelling to work from my local station (Whiston) to Liverpool Lime St and was running late, knowing that I could always get a ticket at the other end. There was no problem with this, however I intended on my return journey from Lime St to get off at Wavetree and so just got a return from Wavetree. This was extremely stupid and I don't need telling I was in the wrong, I feel awful about it. Although it's no excuse for my stupidness, I never get the train back to Wavetree and I was in fact using all different trains due to my mum being in hospital - I was going to Wavetree to get a lift to the hospital. It's no excuse at all and im not looking for sympathy but trying to express how bad I feel. Im not one to make excuses but at the age of 22 finding out my mum had a brain tumour my mind wasnt exactly focussed on stations - stupid I know.

Anyway, i got stopped after I had purchased my ticket, panicked and gave an incorrect name (but the right address) again -stupid!!!! I told him pretty much straight away what my right name was, but now the letter has come addressed to the original name I gave and not my real name.

I really don't want this to go to court - along with the stress of trying to care for my mum, I dont want a criminal record - it would definitely destroy my legal career (I know I should have a better brain than this).

I don't know what difference it makes but I have never been in trouble at all and I have now also purchased an annual pass for nothern rail so i dont risk this happening again.

Has anyone got any advice please?

I do feel terrible and will definitely not be doing anything like this again.

I appreciate my stupidity and will be extremely grateful for any advice what so ever.

Thank you.
 
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island

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Welcome to the forum. You have come to the right place for help. Some of the people, possibly including me, may make points that appear harsh or accusatory. Please try to take any of these as helpful. In particular, we will be asking questions which the prosecutions department of Northern may ask in the future, and you may (further) incriminate yourself with a wrong answer, so consider this a dry run!

As Whiston is a staffed station, it is not OK to join a train there and purchase a ticket at Liverpool Lime Street or on the train, running late or not. Therefore at that point you had already committed a criminal offence. By attempting to purchase a ticket from a closer point than you actually travelled, you committed a second, more serious offence. Giving a wrong name is a third.

I'm not sure where Wavetree is. Did you mean Wavertree Technology Park? I will assume you did for now. I know the fare difference is only 80p off-peak or £1.70 peak, but unfortunately that will cut little ice.

Can you advise us what the letter says? In particular, does it make reference to the Regulation of Railways Act 1889 or the Railway Byelaws, if either?

In many cases, a person without any prior record can make a financial contribution to the administrative costs of the train company with the agreement that court action will not be taken. The size of the contribution is often in the region of £150. However, please don't offer money or reply to any correspondence without taking counsel from this forum. Several members will be able to proof-read any reply you send.
 

alex89

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Hi - thanks for your quick reply.

It's from the Debt Recovery and Prosecutions Unit and says:

This office acts as the prosecuting authority for NR. The company has a zero tolerance policy in matters of fare evasion and anti-social behaviour.

On 30 April 2012 you were spoken to by an authorised member of staff at Liverpool Lime St station with regard to an incident of the non payment of a rail fare. Before the company proceeds further with its investigations in respect of this matter, we would like to give you the opportunity of responding with your explanation concerning it. Please complete the bottom section of this letter and if you wish to make an comments, please do so on the reverse.

As you will appreciate, this is a serious incident; therefore it is imperative that you do not hesitate in contacting the Unit asap to ascertain the full facts in this matter. Failure to respond to this reasonable request or provide a satisfactory explanation with regard to this incident will result in legal action being taken (Regulations of Railway Act and Railway Byelaws apply). I must inform you that should legal proceedings be invoked, in addition to any fines imposed by the court there will be an application for £150 as a contribution to our costs. Offences are recordable and should you be convicted you will receive a criminal record.

...................................

In all honesty, I feel like an absolute idiot (and so I should). Especially now that I have to explain why I gave an incorrect name in too - not done myself any favours at all.

Thanks for any help.
--- old post above --- --- new post below ---
Thank you for your response Island.

I fully appreciate anything that you have to say (I have read your advice of a few forums) and understand the seriousness of my actions.

I don't really know what to do but want to sort it asap too - the letter arrived on thursday 31st but ive been away for the weekend so only just received it today.

Thank you.
 

142094

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I don't think Wavertree Technology Park has barriers, therefore as an educated guess Northern must have had a revenue blockade there on that day, to catch out people who travel from further afield and try to buy a ticket from a closer station at Lime Street. Saying that you had travelled from Wavertree when you in fact travelled from Whiston makes this much more serious than a simple non-payment of a fare.

In this case I would be attempting to settle out of court before it goes much further.
 

185

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(To my knowledge, there was a 'short-fare' trap exercise on with RPA staff blocking entry at Wavertree Tech Pk and Edge Hill) with the RPIs on the gate at Lime St).

Can only suggest making them an apology and an offer of maybe £100 to settle out of court. Sounds like an easy case for their prosecutions this one, unlike the fiasco at Glossop.
 

island

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Thanks for your reply. That's a standard letter (request for statement) sent to people suspected of a ticketing offence.

My first piece of advice is not to panic. There is every likelihood that you will come out without a criminal record if you deal with this properly and maturely. It may well be an expensive lesson, however.

Second is to give the sympathy requests a rest - we've got the message that you had your mum on your mind (hope she pulls through) and that you feel stupid. Overdoing this side in communications with Northern will not do you any favours either. By all means mention it once but after that it's not going to curry sympathy.

Thirdly, the fact that you have purchased an annual ticket may help as a symbol of good faith.

Are you prepared to and capable of paying a sum of £150-200 to put an end to the matter? I'm not guaranteeing it will work, but it has very often been known to. If however this is not an amount of money you are able to come up with, we will have to look at things differently.
 

142094

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(To my knowledge, there was a 'short-fare' trap exercise on with RPA staff blocking entry at Wavertree Tech Pk and Edge Hill) with the RPIs on the gate at Lime St)

That's what I thought - becoming more and more common with Northern it seems, as a) it is rife and b) it can easily be punished.
 

alex89

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I know, I don't want to be trying to get sympathy from them - a sob story doesnt sit well with anyone - I was just trying to get it across that it wasn't intentional so as to save a few quid.

I would be able to pay the £150-£200 and to be honest hope this would be the outcome. Definitely an expensive mistake but cheaper in the long run in terms of my career.

Would you recommend replying making an offer to settle and express my willingness to settle out of court? I'm not entirely sure how to word the letter if anyone can help out? I just want it over with as soon as possible to be honest - another bloody thing to worry about (although entirely self inflicted).

Thanks for replying all.
--- old post above --- --- new post below ---
That's what I thought - becoming more and more common with Northern it seems, as a) it is rife and b) it can easily be punished.

I think this was the case to be honest - the officer told me i couldnt have got on at wavetree because they were giving out some other form of ticket as proof. It was then that I told him where I had in fact travelled from - although it was too late as I had already committed the offence.
 

bb21

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Would you recommend replying making an offer to settle and express my willingness to settle out of court? I'm not entirely sure how to word the letter if anyone can help out? I just want it over with as soon as possible to be honest - another bloody thing to worry about (although entirely self inflicted).

Yes, we have some experienced members on here who could help you with wording your letter.

If this is your first offence, there is a good chance that a settlement would be accepted, although obviously I cannot guarantee you anything.

It is good that they have indicated the amount that they would be pursuing (£150), as that is usually a guideline to how expensive this lesson is likely to be.
 

alex89

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Thank you - is there anyone in particular that you would be able to point me to?

I really do appreciate all of your help.
 

island

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Most of the people concerned read this forum from time to time, but not every single day. You don't have to reply to the letter right this minute; later this week or early next week will be fine. They will come and find this post, don't worry.
 

yorkie

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Can I suggest you write both the requested statement and also a covering letter explaining that you would be willing to make an offer of a settlement to the Company in respect of the time investigating the incident, in your own words. You can send me a PM and I will be happy to both proof read it and suggest improvements.

However the initial wording would really need to come from you.
 

alex89

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Thank you very much - I will write the letter tomorrow and forward a copy to yourself. I can't thank you all enough for this help!!
 

bb21

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Is there a date on the letter by which you are required to send in your reply?
 

alex89

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No there's no date by which to reply. I ideally want it done ASAP though do they know I'm willing to cooperate.
 

bb21

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I wouldn't panic. I think you can afford to take some time to think about what you say in the reply and then get it proof-read.

If you have just received the letter, it is reasonable to assume that they will allow you at least 7 days to give them a response.
 

DaveNewcastle

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That letter is a standard offer for you to make a Witness Statement and it is only after assessing that Statement and the Inspector's Statement, will they decide what Offence if any to Prosecute.
All those I have seen have a time to reply by, I can't recall this evening, 14 or 28 days.
What worries me about this matter is the false name and the proposal to respond to an offer to that person to make a Statement. Doing that without further incriminating yourself will take some skill. This might be an instance where it is wise to say nothing untill the Prosecution's papers are released under 'disclosure' then doing sone quick thinking.
 
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alex89

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It was the name thing that worried me too. The inspector didn't make a statement at the time - just wrote down my name and address and then my real name when I told him. He seemed quite reasonable and told me the worst that would happen would be a fine but I don't know how much weight to put on this.

Would it not be best to write and be honest? Or do they not see this in a good light? I'm unsure if I can just leave it in abeyance because I'm ridiculously worried.
--- old post above --- --- new post below ---
Would anyone suggest maybe ringing NR and trying to explain or going to CAB?
 

trc666

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It certainly will cause problems now that the letter is addressed to the false name, as both Revenue Protection and Prosecutions should have checked it out before taking action. Details are normally always checked by phone to confirm names and addresses before action is taken (for issuing Unpaid Fare Notices, Penalty Fares, reporting for prosecution etc).
 

IanXC

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Would anyone suggest maybe ringing NR and trying to explain or going to CAB?

I think your best option is to write up what you think would be a good response, given the advice above. Then send it by PM to the people who have volunteered to proof read it for you, they'll then have a look at it and tell you any changes you should make.

I think we would advise strongly not to call Northern, its too easy to incriminate yourself doing that. Finally I may be wrong but I'm not sure CAB would really be best placed to help, as these kinds of matters are very railway specific.
 

34D

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I don't think I can offer anything further, except to endorse Mr yorkie, Mr bb21 and Mr dave newcastle, all of whom are experienced forum members held in high regard here.

However, I observe that there seems to be many more threads on here from trainee solicitors than, say, trainee chemists or trainee mathematicians.

You have hopefully had a brief introduction into the minutae that are the railway byelaws, regulation of railways act, et cetera.

Assuming your own career advances, I would observe that this country appears to have a severe lack of solicitors knowledgable in this area. Possibly in the future you might consider acquiring a sufficient degree of knowledge and skill in order that you might offer services to persons such as yourself?

Many of us on here disagree with the archaic legislation around railway tickets, but there isn't much we can do.
 

yorkie

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...He seemed quite reasonable and told me the worst that would happen would be a fine but I don't know how much weight to put on this....
I suppose that is technically correct, in that it would be a fine rather than community service or a prison sentence!

But to someone studying Law, the potential the criminal record would be far more of a concern, but that does depend on the legislation that is used to prosecute (if they do prosecute).
 

185

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I was under the impression that generally transport companies will only accept settlements or appeals by letter or email - as it is a legal document; calling them is frowned upon.

One suggestion I always give those being reported for fare evasion, is if they are going to appeal, try do it straight away.
 

alex89

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Thank you for all your help. I have now pm'd Yorkie with a letter and statement and hope to hear back soon :) hopefully this will be sorted - thanks to you guys.

I owe you all a drink - seriously!!
--- old post above --- --- new post below ---
Hi guys.
If I presume I've been given 14 days to reply will they be taking the bank hol into consideration or strict 14 days?

I haven't sent the letter off yet as Yorkie is having a read over it but now I'm starting to panic?

Thanks
 

cuccir

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Thank you for all your help. I have now pm'd Yorkie with a letter and statement and hope to hear back soon :) hopefully this will be sorted - thanks to you guys.

I owe you all a drink - seriously!!

Don't forget that no-one's making any promises with regards to it being sorted - although companies often accept out-of-court settlements they don't always and they're not obliged to. Not trying to deflate you too much, but just trying to keep some realism in the situation :)
 

alex89

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Thanks cuccir, I fully understand where youre coming from and unfortunately im a glass half empty type of girl so trying to think positive is difficult, but just hoping. I think i'm going to have to go and send my letter off today as i'm really starting to worry...
 

alex89

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Hi guys. I know this is a bit of a "how long is a piece of string question" but does anyone have any idea of how long they usually take to respond? I'm still worrying slot and feel slightly in limbo. Thank you. Alex.
 

DaveNewcastle

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It appears to depend on the workload, and I don't know how big that is at present.
I've known Northern to take as long as 2 months to process an apparently simple matter which had (only) 4 Witness Statements.
 

alex89

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Thanks for your reply. Suppose I just have to carry on waiting... Or would you suggest ringing to confirm they have actually received the letters? Thanks again.
 
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