Northern Rail Took My season ticket and will issue an MG11

Discussion in 'Disputes & Prosecutions' started by cml2015, 12 Aug 2015.

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  1. cml2015

    cml2015 Member

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    Hi Everyone,

    I have been trawling through the different threads an forums before posting this. I can't seem to find any situations similar to mine. I am desperate for some advice or guidance as Northern Rail haven't been very helpful. I have detailed as much as I can below.

    I'll give you the background of the situation. I have travelled from St Helens to Manchester since 2010 and have bought monthly tickets every month for that journey. Earlier this year I met someone who lived in Eccles and I realised that I could park for free at Eccles and get the train into Manchester. This was useful for me if I stayed in Eccles overnight, plus I also could drive to Eccles and park more cheaply than a monthly season ticket from St Helens. Therefore I bought a monthly season ticket from Eccles to Manchester in May, and have bought one every month since.

    However, I do still live in St Helens and there are occasions when I get the train from St Helens. This is either if I oversleep (I have to leave early when I drive) or if I am meeting my mum for a spin class before work in St Helens.

    On the day in question I was travelling on a train from St Helens to Manchester. I had to travel from St Helens for 2 days that week as I was meeting my mum for spin classes at 7am so I wasn't driving into Eccles. The previous day a new guard was on the train who I had never seen before. I showed him my season ticket from Eccles to Manchester, and then asked for a ticket between St Helens and Eccles to make up the difference. Being a friendly northerner, I made conversation with the guard whilst he was doing my ticket, and told him how I usually drive. The guard issued me a ticket no problem and moved on. The next day the same guard was on the train and I did the same thing. The guard issued me a ticket as he did the previous day, and he then asked if he could have a word. He took me to one side and said that it is an offence to board the train without a ticket, and that this is the second day it has happened. He then went on to say that as my season ticket is for a shorter journey he thinks I have just bought it to get through the ticket barrier at Manchester. I explained to him again that more often than not I drive, as it works out cheaper for me in petrol and free parking. The guard ignored me and said he doesn't care. He said he was taking my season ticket and would issue a report to the Prosecutions team and let them deal with it. He then asked me to give the ticket back to him that I had just bought. He took the ticket and asked for my debit card. I was really upset and confused so I handed it over. He put a refund back on my card and said I'd be hearing from them. I asked him numerous times what that meant and he said I'd be prosecuted. I got upset and explained again my situation. I even told him they can look at my records and will see until 4 months ago I have always bought my season ticket from St Helens. I even had my tickets in my bag from other occasions when I have had to buy one from St Helens.

    He then walked off, so when we got to Victoria I asked what am I supposed to do to get out and will he please come to customer service with me. He came to a customer service person with me who I spoke to. The guard then asked for my name and address, which I gave him freely (although they'll have this from my season ticket). He then told the lady at customer service that yesterday I covered up my pass that I showed him and didn't ask for a ticket. I got annoyed then and told him he was lying. I asked him if that was the case why didn't he do something yesterday. He then left. Customer services simply told me to await a letter from Northern. I then phoned the prosecutions team straight away to find out what on earth was going on. He told me the guard will fill out a MG11 form and then I would be contacted and asked for my version of events.

    I am really worried now. The guard was accusing me of defrauding Northern Rail (his words). I don't know how I can prove my situation. I have some tickets, and also bank statements to show when I have bought tickets using a debit card. I also buy tickets using cash.

    I am terrified that I will get prosecuted. I cannot have a criminal record as I work in finance and I would lose my job.

    I have no idea what will happen next and what the likely outcome is.

    I understand that travelling without a valid ticket is an offence. And of that I am guilty. I always buy my ticket on the train because I am always running late. However on the Liverpool to Manchester line the guard always comes up and down the train to check tickets. I said to the guard and customer service that I understand I should buy a ticket at the ticket office. A few months ago I tried to buy my ticket at Victoria and they told me then I should buy it at the ticket office and issued me a notice to pay (not a fine, just a letter to pay the fare).

    I am worrying myself sick. The gentleman in question was very abrupt. He sold me a ticket and then took it back off me. He accused me of trying to hide that my season ticket was from eccles (even though I specifically asked him for the ticket between st Helens and eccles).

    I just don't know what to do or what to expect.

    Can anyone help?
     
    Last edited by a moderator: 14 Aug 2015
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  3. najaB

    najaB Veteran Member

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    The only thing you did wrong was not buy the ticket before boarding. You are allowed to combine a season ticket and 'normal' ticket to cover your journey. I'm on a train with hit-and-miss Internet so I can't look up the fares, but I can't see how your could be accused of 'defrauding' Northern Rail.
     
  4. Gathursty

    Gathursty Established Member

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    I'm assuming this is St Helens Junction and not St Helens Central.
     
  5. cml2015

    cml2015 Member

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    Yes, it was junction.

    He said that because I could have exited the station at Manchester on my season ticket I potentially could have done them out of money. I got really upset. When I made him come with me to the customer service manager he did say at one point "yesterday you tried to hide where your season ticket was from when you showed me." Which was nonsense as I physically handed him the season ticket and asked for a ticket for the difference. If I had done that then surely he would have taken my season ticket from me yesterday. I asked the guard that question but he's wouldn't reply and then left.

    I am now without my season ticket and i will be travelling from Eccles for the rest of the week. Am I allowed to buy another weekly or monthly pass?

    I'm so scared of what is going to happen.
     
    Last edited by a moderator: 14 Aug 2015
  6. clagmonster

    clagmonster Established Member

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    Just looking at this from Northern's perspective:
    1) you live in St. Helens and have recently changed from purchasing a St. Helens - Manchester to an Eccles - Manchester season. Eccles is the last station on the route from St. Helens to Manchester, to passengers could reasonably expect this to be the cheapest ticket to operate the barriers at Man Vic
    2) On consecutive days you boarded without a ticket at St. Helens, were fare paying facilities are available.
    3) You have previously been warned that it is not permitted to board without a valid ticket where fare paying facilities exist.

    Can you see why this might look a little bit fishy? If I were them, I would be wondering whether you actually board at St. Helens everyday. I'm not saying you do, but you have to look at both angles.

    You have, at least, broken this byelaw:
    "18. Ticketless travel in non-compulsory ticket areas
    (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:
    16
    (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. "
    https://www.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/4202/railway-byelaws.pdf

    Other more serious offences may be looked at.

    Have you any evidence that you actually do park up at Eccles? You say the parking is free, so presumably no ticket is issued for that, but petrol receipts in Eccles, coffee, even requesting CCTV from the car park to show you regularly go there.

    As for what happens next, it is wait and see. You will likely get a letter asking for your explanation. There is a chance you will be able to settle, possibly one of Northern's £80 jobs.

    The most important thing I can say is this: don't let it happen again. When you board at St. Helens, pay your fare before boarding. You will be very lucky to get another chance, if indeed you get one this time.
     
  7. najaB

    najaB Veteran Member

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    However, you cannot be prosecuted for 'looking a little fishy'. The only thing that I can see the OP being liable to prosecution for is a Byelaw 18 offence. Unless, of course, there is more to the story.
     
  8. cml2015

    cml2015 Member

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    I don't have any evidence to prove it either way which is most frustrating. I even explained my situation to the ticket office at Victoria last month and the man kindly looked at whether I would be better getting a tram or bus. Every time I've bought my ticket over the last 4 mths I've been asked why I travel from Eccles and i explain. I will be travelling from there for the rest of this week and I now have no season ticket.

    I said to the guard night completely understand that I should have a ticket before i board. I am 100% guilty of that. I was in a rush as I'd just done a Spin class, but I know that isn't an excuse.

    I'm more worried about him accusing me of defrauding Northern. Anyone who works in Manchester will know how expensive it is to park. I can save up to £50 pm by driving to Eccles and catching the train in. It also means I miss the worst of the traffic trying to get into the city centre.

    I just don't know what to do. I feel sick with worry now.
     
    Last edited by a moderator: 14 Aug 2015
  9. najaB

    najaB Veteran Member

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    Remember, the burden of proof lies with the accuser. In order for them to successfully prosecute you for fraud, then they need to be able to lay compelling evidence before the court. If you have done nothing wrong then they won't be able to produce evidence of wrongdoing.
     
  10. cml2015

    cml2015 Member

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    This gives me peace of mind somewhat.

    So what do I do now? If I am asked for my version of events am I ok to say that I understand that I did wrong by not purchasing a ticket before travel? Shall I show them my tickets I've bought historically when travelling from St Helens? I do have a few old ones in my bag. Am I ok to buy another season ticket tomorrow when I get to Eccles?
     
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  11. cml2015

    cml2015 Member

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    Just so im clear, what is compelling evidence? Can his or my statement be compelling evidence?
     
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  12. najaB

    najaB Veteran Member

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    A signed confession can be compelling evidence, the report of a witness in itself cannot. There would need to be more evidence to support a conviction for anything more serious than a Byelaw 18 offence.

    To my mind, the fact that you asked for - and were initially sold - a ticket that would have resolved your failure to pay for conveyance from St Helens to Eccles would make a RoRA prosecution suspect.

    Nothing you have said so far supports the accusation that you were serially defrauding Northern. As clagmonster said, your actions can be viewed as suspicious but mere suspicion is not the same as proof.
     
  13. jon0844

    jon0844 Veteran Member

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    Have you got a phone that records your daily tracks? That can show where you were at any given time, although it may still be ignored even though I don't think you can edit location history on Google.
     
  14. cml2015

    cml2015 Member

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    I'm a bit of a Luddite so I just have an old Samsung phone. Is it worth speaking to a solicitor or shall I wait?
     
    Last edited by a moderator: 14 Aug 2015
  15. clagmonster

    clagmonster Established Member

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    Yes, I would admit that not buying a ticket from the booking office was wrong, apologise and state that when travelling in from St. Helens you will in future pay your fare at the booking office. And make sure you actually do pay your fare at the booking office in future. You may end up with an £80 or similar out of court settlement, you may end up with a byelaw prosecution.

    There is no harm to be done by keeping hold of your old tickets. Do you have any that you have purchased from the booking office, or are they all purchased on the train?

    I don't see a problem with getting a new season at Eccles booking office.
     
  16. DaveNewcastle

    DaveNewcastle Established Member Fares Advisor

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    The required standard of Evidence will be to "beyond reasonable doubt".

    The Witness Statement will state that you travelled from St Helens towards Eccles which you have confirmed. Let's presume that the Offence is "Railway Byelaw 18. Ticketless travel in non-compulsory ticket areas

    (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."

    The Witness Statement will state that you were not in posession of a valid ticket for travel when asked, and by your actions and request to buy a ticket, you confirmed the fact.

    These facts appear to me to be beyond reasonable doubt. The Offence is complete.

    But if we assume that the Offence is fare evasion where there must be 'intent' to avoid payment, then the compelling Evidence mut demonstrate "beyond reasonable doubt" that your actions or words indicated that 'intent'. Obscuring the station name on a season ticket or travelling on the second day without a valid ticket would both be seen as actions persuasive of 'intent'.

    Please disregard this mobile phone comment which simply won't help you:
     
  17. cml2015

    cml2015 Member

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    Thanks Dave

    I didn't obscure the season ticket, I physically handed it to him and asked for a ticket. The following day I wasn't asked to show my ticket. I asked him if i could purchase one.


    I understand that this is the situation and that by purchasing my ticket on the train could show intent. If that is the case, how do i respond and what could happen? I am not denying that i didnt buy a ticket before boarding. I am denying defrauding Northern Rail. I have bought a ticket from St Helens before travelling if I've needed to and had time.

    If they say i was fare evading what steps can they take and what should i do?
     
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  18. DaveNewcastle

    DaveNewcastle Established Member Fares Advisor

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    Questions, Questions!

    If (and this is just one option open to the Company) they determine that a Regulation of Railways Act S.5 Offence has been committed (a.k.a. fare evasion), then they will have adequate Evidence to demonstrate your 'intent'. The Sentence will be determined partly by your means, (and will include elements of a Fine, Costs, Criminal Courts Charge and Victim Surcharge).

    One of the most obvious steps that they can take are simply to submit an application to the Magistrates Court to issue a Summons to you to appear in Court. In reality, a raft of procedural rules apply, including the disclosure of evidence.

    Your complaint that you are denying defrauding Northern Rail is sterile unless you are formally accused of it.
    But I will say that a RoRA S.5 Offence is an accustion of a fraudulent intention, and that it will be evidenced by your actions as they are presented in Witness Statements. I don't doubt your protestation that you had no fraudulent intentions, but equally, I don't doubt that the Company may be persuaded that the Evidence is already adequate.

    There is a small 'gray area', between the two Offences where a ticketless passenger might escape prosecution, but if you've workrd it out, then don't get too excited, as the Railway Companies have also been there many times, and would normally put both Offences on the application to Prosecute passengers without valid tickets, knowing that one or the other will succeed.
     
  19. najaB

    najaB Veteran Member

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    DaveNewcastle, would it be reasonable to say that the sequence of events on the day - that the guard initially sold the OP a ticket from St Helens to Eccles and then withdrew it makes a RoRA prosecution a less likely outcome? The OP's actions demonstrate a clear intent to pay for their journey.
     
  20. talltim

    talltim Established Member

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    What should the OP do about the withdrawal of the (valid) season ticket. They have no proof that it was being misused.
    Also, once again it would seem that there is an issue with consistency, one guard sells a ticket on the train, the next doesn't (or does and then takes it back again)
     
  21. najaB

    najaB Veteran Member

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    The OP has stated that it was actually the same guard both days.
     
  22. DaleCooper

    DaleCooper Established Member

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    Having had a bad experience on another thread I'm in a cynical mood and wondering if we have heard all the story in this case, the paragraph above particularly drew my attention.
     
  23. Clip

    Clip On Moderation

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    Well people always say guards should use their discretion in situations like this so I would say that on the first day he did but then when he recognised the OP after selling the ticket the next day they decided that the OP could well be a chancer so done the right thing and took action against them.

    Its not the guards fault that the OP 'wakes up late' every day they get the train and don't buy a ticket is it?
     
  24. 34D

    34D Established Member

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    Can you evidence this boyfriend/girlfriend who lives in Eccles?

    If so, when asked for your version of events, it may help them come to the view that there has been no serial evasion.

    Did I read that the same member of staff sold you tickets on day 1 and on days 2? The day 2 ticket being immediately cancelled and refunded?

    Does your bank statement corroborate the three transactions for I think £10.20?

    You may be given the opportunity to settle this matter by making an out of court settlement (potentially low hundreds). Does that appeal to you?

    Something for other forum members to consider: I suggest that the byelaw 18 offence isn't committed due to the successful purchase of the ticket on the train on day 2, and that it's immediate refund doesn't change this. Your comments?

    The guard in selling a ticket regularised the passenger's ticketing situation.

    I agree that if this ticket wasn't issued/wasnt paid for that the byelaw offence is committed.
     
  25. cml2015

    cml2015 Member

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    It Isn't the guards fault that I didn't buy a ticket. And I certainly don't wake up late every day. The reason i have a season ticket is so I don't have to worry. I asked him for a ticket on both days. Both days he sold me one. I told him on th first day that I usually travel from Eccles.
    --- old post above --- --- new post below ---
    Hi Dale

    the day in question at Victoria was a day when every single person who had travelled from a manned station and bought their ticket at Victoria was stopped and given the notice. I have my bank statement showing that I have bought m ticket from the ticket office at St helens previously. On this particular train there is ALWAYS a guard checking tickets when I get on at St Helens. What more could there be to my story?
    --- old post above --- --- new post below ---
    34D - The person I met isn't my partner now. So that could be slightly awkward. It was the same guard both days, and yes he sold me a ticket both days, and then on the second day changed his mind and took both my ticket and season ticket off me and did a refund for the ticket. My bank statement will corroborate the transactions that took place, so the issuing of the ticket and then a refund. I had to by a ticket from Eccles this morning, and when I got to Victoria I asked the same customer service lady from yesterday what I should do about my season ticket. I asked is it ok to purchase another one in the interim, to which she responded that it was. So I'll have to get a new picture and I will purchase a new season ticket tomorrow. What happens to the old one?
     
    Last edited by a moderator: 14 Aug 2015
  26. island

    island Established Member

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    Ultimately you have committed a criminal offence by choosing to join a train at a station with ticketing facilities and not buying a ticket. What Northern Rail will be pondering is how often have you done this before, what you would have done on arrival in Manchester had you not been seen by a guard or other official, and similar questions.

    I've asked a moderator to change the title as there does not appear to be any railcards involved.
     
  27. cml2015

    cml2015 Member

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    You're correct, I was referring to my season ticket as opposed to a rail card that gives you a discount. Sorry, I refer to it normally as my rail pass or rail card.
     
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  28. J4mes

    J4mes Member

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    As a fare issuing conductor I have come across this same situation numerous times a week and never do I make any drama of it. I issue the requested ticket at standard open fare price without railcard discount and wander off. If the OP is putting their self forward as needing an additional ticket for the journey and can show evidence (statements or tickets) that they buy the additional required ticket as needed then surely it is down to Northern to prove evasion on the days they weren't bought? Northern are making the accusation and must back it up. Suspicion is nothing.
     
  29. DaleCooper

    DaleCooper Established Member

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    Some details need filling in:

    When did this happen?
    When, due to the relationship ending, did the option of parking at Eccles cease?
    Between these times how many journeys did you make from St Helens to Manchester and did you buy a ticket each time?
    You mention the "new" guard, does this mean you regularly saw the previous guard and bought tickets from them?
     
  30. cml2015

    cml2015 Member

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    Hi Dale,

    I still park at Eccles for free. It was never a relationship, just a brief fling. From 2010 to 2014 I got the train to work from St Helens and my records prove this. In 2014 I started to drive into the city centre as it was more convenient for my job as I have to be in early. Earlier this year when I had met this person and got the train a few time I realised that I could park in Eccles for free and jump on a train for £66 (ish) pm it made more sense than driving all the way into the city and paying approx £130pm JUST for parking. It also saved petrol and time. Anyone who knows this route will know that the worst of the traffic is once you get on to the end of the M602 and then into Manchester. I now park in and around the station are depending where is free. There are residential streets close by so I park and cross the glass bridge. Today I am parked on Albert Street or Road.

    For those who are curious, it would cost me approx. £220-230pm in train and petrol if I travel from home everyday. If I travel from Eccles I can spend £80pm on petrol and £60pm (ish) on train. Even when I factor in days when I have to get on at St Helens (usually a Wednesday as that's spin class day) it still works out cheaper for me. Plus it is convenient. I can get to Eccles by Tram or Bus if the train is cancelled or delayed (as it often the case with Northern Rail).

    In regards to the guard, I have been travelling to Manchester for 5 years, so I recognise the train guards. This particular guard I had never seen before that day. He may not have been 'new'. I simply meant he was new to me. I had never seen or spoken with him before.
     
    Last edited by a moderator: 14 Aug 2015
  31. Camden

    Camden Established Member

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    Given what you say, you must have a long and consistent record of short train fare purchases from St Helens to Eccles?

    I don't doubt the logic of your journey choices, and I'm surprised the Northern guard did seem to. A word about buying a ticket before you travel next time and warning what would happen if you did not would have seemed to me to be a more appropriate and proportionate response in the circumstances you describe.
     
    Last edited: 13 Aug 2015
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