Northern's £80 settlements and lack of incentive for Northern to provide facilities

Discussion in 'Disputes & Prosecutions' started by neilmc, 28 Aug 2015.

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  1. neilmc

    neilmc Member

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    There is no incentive for Northern to provide adequate ticketing facilities either on suburban stations or by on-train fare collection when they are continually allowed to get away with such a lucrative scam. After all, it would take a lot of correctly-sold tickets to add up to the £80 "fine" with which they can sting unsuspecting passengers. I believe this is, literally, criminal and long for the day when Northern managers are given the long prison sentences they richly deserve as a fair match for the penalties which can be imposed on passengers, plus immediate and uncompensated loss of the franchise. Sadly I don't think I'll live to see such a day.

    Note: split from Failure to Pay - Northern Rail
     
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  3. Llanigraham

    Llanigraham On Moderation

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    So provide us with EXACTLY what Law Northern and it's managers are breaking?
     
  4. Bletchleyite

    Bletchleyite Veteran Member

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    None, clearly, but it is very questionable morally in my view, and it is a problem that could be solved by providing adequate ticket purchasing facilities at their urban unstaffed stations, i.e. at least one TVM at each, so nobody has any excuse for boarding a train without a valid ticket, and it's all nice and easy. Passengers should not be expected to waste their time hunting down the ticket office when leaving the station by a public exit.
     
  5. najaB

    najaB Veteran Member

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    While I agree that additional ticket machines are needed, there's no reason that buying your ticket after you travel would add any more time to the end-to-end journey than buying afterwards at your destination. The time 'lost' at the destination station is 'saved' by not having to turn up as early at your origin station.
     
  6. DaveNewcastle

    DaveNewcastle Established Member Fares Advisor

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    This comment is simply perverse:
    There has never been, and I doubt will ever be, a single railway passenger who has been offered the administrative settlement which Northern Rail offer, who has been denied any of the possible outcomes from ticketless travel that are otherwise available to them, and (perhaps more importantly) who has been denied any of the only outcomes available to them had they travelled with any of the other UK rail operators.

    The "unsuspecting passengers" you refer to are, of course, only that subset of passengers who travel without a ticket - the situation which all of the UK operators have to deal with (but without the publicised offer to their passengers of a settlement), and which in total is costed at over £1 billon p.a.

    The most "lurative scam" that anyone appears to be "allowed to get away with" seems to me to be that of the persistent and determined passengers failing to pay for the service taken. But I do appreciate a well presented 'consumerist complaint' when I see one.
     
    Last edited: 28 Aug 2015
  7. crehld

    crehld Established Member Associate Staff Senior Fares Advisor

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    You need to spend time queuing for the Leeds station excess fares window! Spent 20 minutes queuing there last week. It would have been significantly quicker for me to buy a ticket at my origin (had the facilities been available) or to purchase from the guard (had they been visible).
     
  8. najaB

    najaB Veteran Member

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    After posting I thought I should change "would take" to "should need to take" - in my mind I was placing the additional ticket machines at the major terminus stations. A gallery of twenty or thirty ticket machines, rather than a single ticket machine at each of twenty or thirty outlying stations.
     
  9. crehld

    crehld Established Member Associate Staff Senior Fares Advisor

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    I am afraid this statement is simply untrue. As a passenger who boarded at an unstaffed station with no ticket issuing facilities and no opportunity to buy from the guard on the train. In these cases upon actively presenting myself to staff at my destination, the appropriate "possible outcomes" should have been to sell me the appropriate fares, given it was my first opportunity to pay, or at a stretch issue an unpaid fares notice. Proceeding directly to a letter demanding an £80 fine / administrative settlement plus the outstanding fares with accompanying threats of criminal records etc. does not strike me as an approach which exhausts these possible outcomes. My experience is, of course, far from unique.
    --- old post above --- --- new post below ---
    Would help with the queues but as someone above noted it doesn't get around problem of people shortcomings faring. Adequate facilities to purchase at origins coupled with adequate on board inspections by adequately trained staff is a far better solution.
     
  10. najaB

    najaB Veteran Member

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    I don't disagree, I was merely pointing out that queuing to purchase at the destination station need not be a problem if this approach was chosen.
     
  11. LateThanNever

    LateThanNever Member

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    Many of them of course have no opportunity to even buy a ticket so how on earth is this £1 billon p.a. calculated?
     
  12. talldave

    talldave Established Member

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    It would cost less than that to equip every remaining station with TVMs...so I wonder why TOCs don't do it?
     
  13. najaB

    najaB Veteran Member

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    I think it is because the majority of fare evasion actually occurs from stations where ticketing facilities already exist.
     
  14. 34D

    34D Established Member

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    I think you're being rather obtuse here dave.

    You are very aware that if the business of Northern Rail was selling items in a shop they wouldn't be able to charge a 'lump sum amount to thieves' (I'm trying to find a link to one of the court cases where civil recovery was found unlawful but can't so here is a generic link http://www.theguardian.com/uk/2010/dec/10/citizens-advice-shoplifting-fines instead) or if their business was a car park without railway byelaws they wouldn't be able to charge a lump sum to those overstaying (though we should wait for the Supreme Court here).

    Our TOC's have an archaic right to prosecute in the criminal courts, which is an area of law long overdue change.

    They are abusing this right by demanding a £80 penalty in cases that do not meet the evidentiary proof for criminal acts.

    Northern Rail should allow a 'fair fight' and start using the county court instead.
     
    Last edited: 29 Aug 2015
  15. Bletchleyite

    Bletchleyite Veteran Member

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    I've debated the £80 thing many times before, but to me the problem here is not the £80 thing, but that what they are doing morally (though not legally) borders on entrapment - an open exit with staff waiting round the corner to catch people. Those staff should be visible by the exit selling tickets to people who have come from unstaffed stations without TVMs, or at least there should be a large sign stating that the exit is for ticket holders only (and then it would be reasonable to hide round the corner and prosecute people).

    The latter is not unusual, there is, as I recall, precisely such a signed exit at Oxford (or I think that's where it is, anyway; I've definitely seen one); the sign is very clear and if you ignore it you can reasonably expect to be prosecuted.
     
    Last edited: 29 Aug 2015
  16. CheesyChips

    CheesyChips Member

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    It always strikes me as odd where companies with profit maximisation as a goal are protected by archaic (and in comparison to the recourse available to normal business, draconian) laws.

    I often wonder if TOCs lost their ability to prosecute and were forced to use channels of recovery such as county courts with arguments based on consumer laws (where there's much greater chance for the traveller to win) there would be a greater incentive to provide adequate and convenient ticketing facilities.

    The railways are a service for the public and TOCs should be the ones being held accountable to the public, not being left to conjour up entrapment techniques to profit from those who choose to use a particular exit.
     
  17. Starmill

    Starmill Events Co-ordinator

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    Nobody has accused them of trying to break the law. What we are broadly accusing them of is wanting to have their cake and eat it; they want passengers to buy tickets but don't want to have to stump up the cash to open ticket offices or install ticket machines. Or do you disagree?

    I agree. However, Swinton isn't a small rural station.

    No it isn't. I don't turn up later at the station because I might not be able to buy a ticket before boarding. Please remember that passengers are required, in effect, to queue unlimitedly before boarding.

    Most passengers, reasonably I think, expect to be able to exit immediately (or at least swiftly) upon reaching their rail destination. Not to have to queue for several minutes before they may do so.
     
  18. Skutter

    Skutter Member

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    How much? ATOC do a press release every year, claiming £240m (2013 prices) is lost in unpaid fares.
     
  19. aformeruser

    aformeruser Veteran Member

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    Penalty fare schemes are supposed to be agreed with DfT under the Railways Act. Northern are effectively operating a penalty fare scheme (in all but name) without DfT approval.

    Northern do have TfGM backing to an extent. TfGM back the £80 penalties being given out where are posters clearly tell people to buy before they board and saying they risk a £80 penalty if they don't. Even then TfGM only support the £80 penalties going to people who've previously had their details taken for not purchasing a ticket. In their eyes a first time offender should be given a warning and be told next time you won't get away with just paying the ticket price.
     
  20. neilmc

    neilmc Member

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    After I posted what may seem to some an inflammatory statement, this was confirmed by an incident (or, fortunately, non-incident) which happened to a friend this week, which she mentioned casually and in no connection with these forums or any discussion about rail issues. She had been walking along the canal in North Manchester and took a train into Victoria from a non-staffed station where there was no ticket machine. The guard was clearly occupied with other matters since he didn't bother to come round and sell her a ticket.

    At Victoria, the barriers were simply left open (as it was off-peak the hordes of barrier staff which normally outnumber actual rail employees were presumable relaxing somewhere). She simply walked out of the station without paying, as I suggest the vast majority of honest passengers also would, taking the view that Northern are not prepared to put any effort into collecting revenue off-peak. She didn't normally travel by train and may not have realised that in such circumstances the passenger is meant to do the TOCs work for them and actively seek out a ticket office somewhere on the station.

    The good news is that there was no RPI lurking behind a pillar ready to criminalise her, but, hey, the fare was probably only around £3 anyway. However the consequences for her could have been serious, since railway law has provisions which would be viewed as inequitable under consumer legislation in any other area.

    I recently viewed a site of a solicitor specialising in defending passengers accused of fare evasion - whilst in most cases the issue was clear-cut and involved trying to negotiate a financial settlement as opposed to a conviction which could affect the defendant's career, in a significant minority of cases, maybe 10-20%, the TOC offered no evidence or were disbelieved and the defendant was found innocent and had costs awarded. But these are, I suspect, fairly well-heeled individuals prepared to take the risk of going to court, many passengers will simply fork out meekly and it's noticeable that in these forums at least half the genuine disputes seem to involve Northern.

    I doubt whether they care too much, since if they win the passenger pays up or is criminalised, and if they lose the taxpayer pays up. But if the management of TOCs had to face the possibility of a prison sentence for malicious or incompetent prosecution, bearing in mind that the passenger faces this kind of risk habitually, it might concentrate minds wonderfully on proper and fair means of revenue collection.
     
  21. 34D

    34D Established Member

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    Very good post. Put much more eloquently than I could.
    --- old post above --- --- new post below ---
    I would do likewise. But can you imagine an open barrier gate and lines of thugsRPI's further towards the gates?
     
    Last edited: 29 Aug 2015
  22. Bletchleyite

    Bletchleyite Veteran Member

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    Agreed 100%. There is no excuse for not having methods of payment available before boarding at urban and suburban stations, thus making a failure to pay obvious. One simple rule - you buy before you board; tickets are not sold on board or on arrival. Works for Metrolink, and it would also work for all Greater Manchester urban services, and probably most of the rural ones that pass through there as well.

    At the very least there should be a Permit to Travel machine, but with advancing technology a "full" TVM should not be all that much more expensive.

    Very rural lines could operate on a Paytrain basis, with this policy clearly stated on signage, but there aren't many of those in Greater Manchester itself.
     
  23. 34D

    34D Established Member

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    I would like to see all TVMs have a 'permit to travel' button for people whose ticket is not available from the machine, so people wanting to do a 19c split, excess, monthly season, different origin, etc.

    In reality the smartcard scheme for manchester (as with the one for leeds) should be capable of delivering ITSO PAYG on heavy rail in their conurbations.

    It is mainly the disinterest (I wonder why!) of the current Northern franchise that this hasn't progressed further for rail.

    By progressed further I mean that 99% of buses in both areas do actually take itso tickets now, but (of Northern's stations) only leeds and bradford int do at present (once the manchester project gets back on track, GM ENCTS ITSO card holders touching in and out at the barriered stations (Victoria and wherever else) should become simple.
     
    Last edited: 29 Aug 2015
  24. swt_passenger

    swt_passenger Veteran Member

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    Then what do you do about people who take a PTT when their fares are available from the TVM?
     
  25. najaB

    najaB Veteran Member

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    Accept that some money is better than none? Also, I'm presuming that PTTs would not work at station barriers.
     
  26. sarahj

    sarahj Established Member

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    Yup, every passenger who boards at a station with facilities normally says 'but i did not have time'.

    As I said to one the other morning,'yet you had time to board at the coach furthest from the entrance at Swanwick and will be furthest from the exit at Netley, how strange!!!'
     
  27. HilversumNS

    HilversumNS Member

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    In the original post it states (my bold):

     
  28. Elecman

    Elecman Established Member

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    Charge them the fare due as the PTT will positively state what station they got on at.
     
  29. 34D

    34D Established Member

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    They will know that a ptt needs to be exchanged for a proper ticket though, so would only but ptt if their ticket really wasn't available
     
  30. Bletchleyite

    Bletchleyite Veteran Member

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    A better solution is just to have all walk-up fares available from the TVM. Southern now allow remote issues from all their TVMs.
     
  31. Starmill

    Starmill Events Co-ordinator

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    I don't understand why Byelaw 18 should still be allowed. Why is it a strict liability to present a ticket?

    Getting rid of it wouldn't make it any more difficult for genuine fare evaders to be caught and prosecuted.
     
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