Penalty Fare Advice Please

Status
Not open for further replies.

Stanage

Member
Joined
5 Jul 2012
Messages
5
Hi.

Really appreciate the advice given to others here and hoping for the same please

My journey was from Doncaster to the Peak District. I purchased a Cross-Country ticket from Doncaster to Sheffield, with the intention of deciding my onward journey (train, bus or possible lift from friend) on arrival at Sheffield.

On arrival in Sheffield and checking departure boards, the best option was East Midlands Trains to Chesterfield, where I would get a lift from a friend. I therefore crossed from one side of the platform to the other, to board the train to Chesterfield, with the assumption that I could buy a ticket on the train. Once the train departed I was approached by an official and I asked to buy a ticket to Chesterfield. He issued a Penalty Fare of £20. I felt that there should have been some sort of warning notice that this would happen, so did not pay at the time.

On further research, I found that SRA Penalty Fare Rules state that an authorised collector must not charge a penalty fare if warning notices are not displayed (Rule 7.3), and that these warning notices must be displayed so that they can be seen by passengers changing onto a penalty fares train from another train (Rule 4.1).

There were no warning notices on the platform at Sheffield (I have been back to double-check), so my understanding is that the Authorised Collector should not have charged the penalty fare, as they were not visible to a passenger (me) changing onto the penalty fares train.

I appealed to IRCAS on this basis, but received a rejection letter stating that the appeal was not upheld as purchase of a valid ticket had not been made before travelling. The letter appears to use standard paragraphs and states that ‘train companies operating a penalty fare scheme display statutory warning notices…’.

I still do not think that the train company has provided the statutory warning notices, so they should not have issued the Penalty Fare. I have written again to IRCAS with the facts above (with the addition of photographs to show that there are no notices on the station platform) asking them to reconsider the appeal and, in the event that they still feel that I should pay the Penalty Fare, provide a clear explanation as to why the Authorised Collector charged a penalty fare when it appears that he should not have done so. I am awaiting a response.

The purpose of this post is to get realistic feedback, from those with more experience, on:
  • Whether I do actually have valid grounds for appeal, or whether I have misunderstood something
  • What’s likely to happen next if IRCAS still reject the appeal
  • If I don’t hear from them by the payment date, whether just to pay the £20, take the hit and move on, even if I am in the right
Your advice would be much appreciated – many thanks in advance.
 
Sponsor Post - registered members do not see these adverts; click here to register, or click here to log in
R

RailUK Forums

hairyhandedfool

Established Member
Joined
14 Apr 2008
Messages
8,837
Did you state where you started your journey? Did you produce your earlier ticket at the time? When you appealed, did you state you had arrived at Sheffield on another train? Did you state in that appeal where you had come from?
 

34D

Established Member
Joined
9 Feb 2011
Messages
6,031
Location
Yorkshire
First of all, you boarded a train without a ticket - this is a strict liability offence of which you are guilty (PF area or non-PF area).

I would strongly recommend that the £20 is paid forthwith to remove the possibility of you being taken to the magistrates courts.

Secondly (perhaps after doing the above) it would be worth writing to EMT (who I assume was the TOC?) asking for reimbursement (of £20 minus the actual cost of Sheffield-Chesterfield) on the basis that the signage was inadequate.

Finally, please understand that a PF is issued to someone who appears to have made a genuine mistake and not someone believed to be a serial fare dodger.

Why on earth did you board a train without a ticket? The guard on your doncaster-sheffield train would have probably excessed your ticket to chesterfield (if asked before arrival at sheffield).
 

Stanage

Member
Joined
5 Jul 2012
Messages
5
Did you state where you started your journey? Did you produce your earlier ticket at the time? When you appealed, did you state you had arrived at Sheffield on another train? Did you state in that appeal where you had come from?

I did all of the above, yes - my post above is a slightly abbreviated transcript of what I wrote in the appeal.

First of all, you boarded a train without a ticket - this is a strict liability offence of which you are guilty (PF area or non-PF area).

I would strongly recommend that the £20 is paid forthwith to remove the possibility of you being taken to the magistrates courts.

Secondly (perhaps after doing the above) it would be worth writing to EMT (who I assume was the TOC?) asking for reimbursement (of £20 minus the actual cost of Sheffield-Chesterfield) on the basis that the signage was inadequate.

Finally, please understand that a PF is issued to someone who appears to have made a genuine mistake and not someone believed to be a serial fare dodger.

Why on earth did you board a train without a ticket? The guard on your doncaster-sheffield train would have probably excessed your ticket to chesterfield (if asked before arrival at sheffield).

I did not decide to travel on to Chesterfield until after I arrived in Sheffield, otherwise I would have bought a through ticket to Chesterfield from Doncaster. I don't travel by train a great deal and naively assumed that I could still buy a ticket on the train - that's not meant as a defence as I now understand that it's a strict liability offence.

Of all the options, your suggestion of paying the penalty fare by the deadline and subsequently trying to reclaim the difference between that and the full fare seems the least painful.
 

Paul Kelly

Established Member
Joined
16 Apr 2010
Messages
3,681
Location
Reading
If your description is right, then it does sound to me like the Penalty Fare was technically invalid but if you haven't actually paid anything for the Sheffield to Chesterfield part of your journey, i.e. not even the normal (non-penalty) fare from Sheffield to Chesterfield, then you are on dodgy ground and it might be best not to stir things up.

If you did actually pay the normal Sheffield to Chesterfield fare (£4.60) due at the time and are simply disputing the payment of the remaining £15.40 "penalty element" of the fare, then I think you would be in a better position to push forward with the appeal. Just my opinion though.
 

LexyBoy

Established Member
Fares Advisor
Joined
23 Jan 2009
Messages
4,472
Location
North of the rivers
If your description is right, then it does sound to me like the Penalty Fare was technically invalid but if you haven't actually paid anything for the Sheffield to Chesterfield part of your journey, i.e. not even the normal (non-penalty) fare from Sheffield to Chesterfield, then you are on dodgy ground and it might be best not to stir things up.

This is a good reason to pay the PF and then appeal, I think.

It's worth remembering that boarding a train without a ticket is a criminal offence unless there was no way of purchasing a ticket where you boarded. This is largely ignored - especially oop north where purchasing on-board is largely seen as perfectly acceptable by both passengers and staff - but I'd not get into a dispute with a TOC (especially a Stagecoach one) without being sure I had a valid ticket for the journey first.
 

thedbdiboy

Member
Joined
10 Sep 2011
Messages
535
First of all, you boarded a train without a ticket - this is a strict liability offence of which you are guilty (PF area or non-PF area).

I should point out that although the byelaws do contain the strict liability offence of boarding without a ticket, in practice, this needs to be read in conjunction with the NRCoC- so in practice a prosecution under this byelaw should demonstrate that the protections of the NRCoC (i.e. ticket office closed, couldn't buy correct ticket before departure, etc apply). It would appear from some of the replies to this and similar threads that in some quarters at least, Byelaw 18 is considered a simple 'guilty unless proved innocent' catch all. It is a useful revenue protection tool but should be used with care.

I highlight this simply because in this case, assuming that the OP has been full and frank, we have a situation where the Penalty Fare was technically invalid. Those expert in the law in these areas will understand why the OP should have paid the actual fare due when challenged, but this scenario does seem a bit harsh:

i) is there evidence that OP was trying to avoid payment - NO
ii) was PF incorrectly issued - YES

In such cases I have grave concern where Byelaw 18 is wheeled out as the catch all.
 

DaveNewcastle

Established Member
Fares Advisor
Joined
21 Dec 2007
Messages
7,397
Location
Newcastle (unless I'm out)
I agree with all the preceeding replies which identify the key issues, and also agree that pragmatically the best advice is simply to settle the £20 'Penalty Fare'.

However, I will add that the standard of signage at Sheffield falls well below a level which I would find adequate or appropriate, and struggled to find any when I specifically looked for it. The attached image from Sheffield station(albeit very poor quality) is of a poster which would only be seen by many passengers if they turned round and looked behind them after a cross-platform transfer.
Other passengers would not pass in front of this poster, or any like it.
But it is there!
PenaltyFarePoster EMT 2009.jpg

The thedbdiboy's concern that the Byelaw Offence is used with a little more enthusiasm than might be expected from a reasonably informed investigation, but sadly, that is exactly how many operators apply it. It might be expected that the application of a Penalty Fare area and train would be as an alternative to Byelaw 18.
 
Last edited:

Stanage

Member
Joined
5 Jul 2012
Messages
5
You guys are stars!

I'd been through the NRCoC as well as the SRA rules & policies docs. I'd missed Byelaw 18 though, which could be used as a catch-all, I guess.

Assuming that I've not had my appeal upheld by the payment deadline, I'll pay the PF so that at least I had a valid ticket for the journey. I'll then try and recover the difference between the full fare and the penalty fare from EMT. I'm sure that will be a challenge, but at least it will be without the possibility of prosecution :)

Thanks again - I'll let you know how I get on.
 

island

Veteran Member
Joined
30 Dec 2010
Messages
11,337
Location
0036
There remains the possibility of prosecution even when a PF is paid. I can't say it's likely to happen in these circumstances, but just so you know.
 

thedbdiboy

Member
Joined
10 Sep 2011
Messages
535
There remains the possibility of prosecution even when a PF is paid. I can't say it's likely to happen in these circumstances, but just so you know.

Yes, it is theoretically possible but it would seem entirely over the top in this case - to the extent that I'd be inclined to take it to the judge....
 

sheff1

Established Member
Joined
24 Dec 2009
Messages
4,868
Location
Sheffield
I'll let you know how I get on.

Please do. I have previously raised the multiple failures of EMT to follow the PF Guidelines/Rules at Sheffield - no posters visible (for some passengers starting there, never mind changing trains), no announcements, no mention on the information displays etc - but nothing has changed, except for the slightly altered position of one of the very few posters.
 
Last edited:

Stanage

Member
Joined
5 Jul 2012
Messages
5
Out of interest, and the more I look into this, one thing I don't understand is the apparent difference between the NRCoC and the byelaws when it comes to dealing with people that get onto trains without a ticket.

NRCoC says that you will be liable to pay the full fare or a Penalty Fare - someone like me may well be (was) comfortable boarding a train without a ticket on the basis of that agreement - the understanding is that I can pay the fare (or a penalty) after boarding.

However Byelaw 18 says that I cannot get onto a train without a ticket - someone like me would not be comfortable boarding a train without a ticket on that basis, as the implication is that I could get a summons, court appearance, fine and record.

I don't fully understand how these 2 legal implications of my actions can sit happily alongside each other. I understand that one is a civil contract and the other a criminal issue, but it seems unusual for the TOCs to tell me one one hand that thye will sell me a ticket on board, and then on the other hand to prosecute me for not having one.

I'm assuming I'm missing something.
 

LexyBoy

Established Member
Fares Advisor
Joined
23 Jan 2009
Messages
4,472
Location
North of the rivers
I'm assuming I'm missing something.

Not really! Bear in mind though that until a ticket is held, there is no contract between the Railway and the passenger, so the NRCoC doesn't technically apply (although it does of course refer to such situations itself).

Byelaw 18 is generally used by TOCs to prosecute those who they know are up to no good, but don't have sufficient evidence to persue using the more stringent Regulation of the Railways Act.

The disparity between the CoC and Byelaws is something of a mystery to me too. In this instance there is a direct contradiction between what will happen if a ticket is not held.
 

MKD

Member
Joined
22 Feb 2012
Messages
148
Well the NR information for Sheffield says

Penalty fares
Penalty Fares apply to journeys from Sheffield station when travelling with:
East Midlands Trains

Penalty Fares do not apply if travelling with:
Transpennine Express
Northern Trains
Cross Country
 

Stanage

Member
Joined
5 Jul 2012
Messages
5
Hi all

As outlined above, I wrote to IRCAS at the beginning of July, stating again that there were no warning notices for transferring passengers at Sheffield, so the Authorised Collector should not have charged the penalty fare.

I finally received a reply today, saying that I had made no attempt to purchase a valid ticket and was therefore liable to the notice issued to me. It also said that penalty fare notices are displayed at all stations advising passengers of the necessity of purchasing a valid ticket.

However, the letter does go on to say that, having checked with EMT as to the posters at Sheffield, they are willing on this occasion to overturn the original decision and cancel the penalty notice.

So that's a fair result, I think.

Frustrating though that again I travelled on Northern Trains last week and people are happily buying tickets on the train - it would be nice if the TOCs were consistent between each other and everyone would know where they stood.

Thanks again for your advice in sorting this out.
 
Status
Not open for further replies.

Top