Penalty Fare / No Ticket Question on FCC stations without barriers

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NightatLaira

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The other day I attempted to buy a ticket from a south London station without barriers. The one and only ticket machine was on the blink and my train was due in minutes.

My journey was to be SOUTH MERTON to SEVENOAKS changing at ELEPHANT & CASTLE. It was a case of 'get on board without a ticket, or miss the train prevaricating'.

I got on board without a ticket.

FCC suburban trains are generally all Driver Only Operated, no guard, but sometimes random revenue protection people. It was not a pleasant journey for me, at the back of my mind was the constant threat that I might be harangued by the revenue protection brigade and treated like a petty fare-dodger.

I arrived at Sevenoaks and prepared myself for the inevitable saga with the men on the barriers... except: THEY WERE OPEN! :D

But being the honest sort of person that I am I then went and bought a ticket anyway. I purchased a Sevenoaks to South Merton return (to save funny looks) and used the outward portion on my return journey later in the day where there were once again no revenue protection people, no guard on the train, and no barriers at the other end.

I did feel like a bit of mug though... how many other people would have bought a ticket after all that?!


My question is: what would have happened had I been caught by a revenue protection brigade midway through my journey? Is there a broken ticket machine clause to allow someone to purchase a ticket at the normal price without penalty fares? Or would they treat you just as a fare dodger?
 
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Anon Mouse

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Is there not a ticket office at South Merton? If so then you are required to buy your ticket from there.

I don't know if they have the capabilty on FCC to sell tickets onboard from Revenue Protection as I don't know how they do things, but if they can you would have probably been sold the ticket you would have got from the machine. Otherwise you could have been given a Penalty Fare (if there in operation), an Upaid Fares notice or a Travel Irregularity Report filed to investigate the reason for you not having a ticket.

I am sure some FCC bods on here would be better to explain as I don't know the score on the doors down sarf!
 

noblergt

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Pretty sure its ok if there was no means to pay at the station. I think this also counts if you only had cash and the ticket machine only accepts cards. You should always make sure you pay at the first opportunity, either on board or when you get off as you did.

As long as the ticket machine was definitely broken then any penalty fares etc would be successfully appealed.

Edit: From looking at the national rail website there appears to be a Permit to Travel machine next to the ticket machine. You should have used this to avoid a penalty fare. Unless it was broken as well.
 

Urban Gateline

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There seems to be no ticket office at South Merton, just the one machine like the OP said.

Revenue protection staff can check the status of TVM's by phoning their "control", who will tell them if the machine is working OK or not, if it is deemed to be working then you may have been liable to a Penalty fare. However as Anon Mouse said, if the machine was indeed out of service or had a fault then the Revenue Protection staff can sell the appropriate ticket, they carry the same ticket machines as a Guard does, with the addition of PF and MG11 report pads!

It's great that you did the honest thing and paid for the journey, if you had been caught walking past the ticket office and making no attempt to pay, by an RPI, then you may have been reported for prosecution as that would constitute attempting to avoid the fare, although that's unlikely as most RPI's at stations are at the Gateline.

At the end of the day, you may feel like that money was wasted, but you pay for the service, anyone who chooses not to pay for getting a service is scum in my book!
 

jon0844

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I believe that TVMs can report faults, such as running out of ticket stock or other things like that, so your claim could - in theory - be checked. Some RPIs might not bother and then choose to a) take your word for it or b) give a PF anyway, and say 'hey you can easily appeal'. The problem with that is that you've now got hassle, and TVMs won't report all faults - like the touchscreen being on the blink, as one of the more common faults.

Still, buying a ticket after is the right thing to do. I've done this before, getting a ticket from the destination back to the origin station, so I've paid the right fare, then chucking the ticket away. It does feel stupid, but at least nobody can accuse you of doing anything wrong (Well, they probably could by saying the ticket you bought and never used was not valid for the trip you did!!).
 

Urban Gateline

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I've done this before, getting a ticket from the destination back to the origin station, so I've paid the right fare, then chucking the ticket away. It does feel stupid, but at least nobody can accuse you of doing anything wrong (Well, they probably could by saying the ticket you bought and never used was not valid for the trip you did!!).
This is exactly what I do with passengers who don't hold a valid ticket, when there are no RPI's around and the ticket office is shut, it's the only way to collect back some revenue. I don't know why I bother sometimes though as there's no thanks for it, I just happen to care about my TOC's revenue!
 

lyesbkz

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But being the honest sort of person that I am I then went and bought a ticket anyway. I purchased a Sevenoaks to South Merton return (to save funny looks) and used the outward portion on my return journey later in the day where there were once again no revenue protection people, no guard on the train, and no barriers at the other end.
In theory, you cannot use the Outward portion of a two-part return after using the Return portion

Obviously in practice, since the Return portion was unmarked in this case then it wouldn't have made any difference but (as you may be aware) on some occasions when using an Outward portion you may be asked to show the unmarked Return portion too. Once you use the Return portion, the Outward portion loses any remaining validity.
 

tsr

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It sounds like the only thing you did wrong was to use a return portion before an outward one. Technically, I believe you should have complied with Condition 17 of the NRCoC, but since you haven't defrauded the Train Company of any money (AFAIK), hopefully you'd be fine.

The last question in your post is answered by the table in the NRCoC under Condition 2(i). There is no mention of any obligation to obtain a confirmation of the failure of the ticket machine.

If the ticket office staff or people in the queue were to give you funny looks, that's their problem. You were buying a ticket at what appears to have constituted your first reasonable opportunity. I think that's OK.

EDIT: Oops! Beaten to it re. my first paragraph - see also the post above this one!
 

bignosemac

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It sounds like the only thing you did wrong was to use a return portion before an outward one.
No, the OP bought a Sevonoaks - South Merton return at Sevenoaks, using the OUT portion to make their return journey. That ticket wasn't being used incorrectly.
 

RJ

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Good thing you bought a ticket. It's not worth running the risk, especially on FCC where their revenue protection team are notorious for taking the hardest line of enforcement permitted for any (perceived) travel irregularties.

Honestly, if you don't have sufficient fear inside you when you step on one of FCC's trains knowing that you passed up the opportunity to buy a ticket, you're either woefully naive or silly enough not to mind being prosecuted and/or getting a criminal record :p.
 
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jon0844

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Or you travel in a group, chuck yourself in first class and get mouthy with the RPIs. Then you'll most likely find many RPIs will let you off with a friendly warning 'this time'. It's often the 'toughest' ones that seem to be quickest to back off.

I can't remember when I last saw a large group of RPIs on a train, or backed up by police. Therefore the worst offenders are much more likely to get away with fare evasion, than the poor person who couldn't get a ticket because a TVM didn't work but it didn't report the fact.
 

bakerstreet

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From looking at the national rail website there appears to be a Permit to Travel machine next to the ticket machine. You should have used this to avoid a penalty fare. Unless it was broken as well.
Talking of which I took an early train from a north London FCC station the other day. Ticket office of course shut at 5am, PTT machine lit saying 'pay at ticket office'.

I have a London Zones Gold Card so just wanted to buy an extension.

In the end I travelled as far as I could on my ticket, then caught the night bus!

When I returned later I very politely told the ticket office man of my plight who sadly didn't seen to care.

I wouldn't mind but the ticket office is only open about 7 hours a day now, they really should get all their machines working.
If he doesn't switch it on next time I'll raise it with FCC.
 

LexyBoy

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@bakerstreet - surely then you had no opportunity to buy and could have bought at your destination?

No, the OP bought a Sevonoaks - South Merton return at Sevenoaks, using the OUT portion to make their return journey. That ticket wasn't being used incorrectly.
If the RTN wasn't used then technically they never bought a ticket covering the outward journey. Not that I think there's anything wrong with OP's actions- the only time I could see potential problems would be where the return tickets are priced differently in either direction.

 

bakerstreet

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@bakerstreet - surely then you had no opportunity to buy and could have bought at your destination?
I know, it just feels so much better having a ticket or PTT or something to prove intention given the stories re some, not all,FCC RPIs we hear on here.

All they need to do is switch on PTT machine when ticket office is shut or maybe allow Boundary Zone fares to be purchased from machine when ticket office shut.

I'd rather travel with the correct indisputable ticket and not be an FCC RPI's collar for the day or have to go on the defensive because machines aren't working !
 

General Zod

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If there were RPIs at Sevenoaks could they have penalised OP for not buying a ticket at his first available opportunity i.e. at Elephant & Castle station when changing trains ?
 

LexyBoy

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If there were RPIs at Sevenoaks could they have penalised OP for not buying a ticket at his first available opportunity i.e. at Elephant & Castle station when changing trains ?
Depends on whether there was a long enough gap between trains to be able to purchase a ticket without delaying one's journey. There may well not have been given the frequency of trains.
 

big_dirt

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Or you travel in a group, chuck yourself in first class and get mouthy with the RPIs. Then you'll most likely find many RPIs will let you off with a friendly warning 'this time'. It's often the 'toughest' ones that seem to be quickest to back off.

I can't remember when I last saw a large group of RPIs on a train, or backed up by police. Therefore the worst offenders are much more likely to get away with fare evasion, than the poor person who couldn't get a ticket because a TVM didn't work but it didn't report the fact.
to be honest, FCC RPIs are fairly intimidating in their appearance.

I know their behaviour may be more personal but they had a large check at Elephant and Castle yesterday and part of me was glad of the presence of the BTP because the RPIs looked fairly threatening, even though I had a valid ticket and photocard.

There was a guy wearing a wooly hat pulled down to the eyeline, in spite of it being the warmest day of the year. Another lad, his jacket barely concealed all the Japanese writing tattoos round his wrists.

I know their appearance helps intimidate fare dodgers in to compliance but the vast majority of us who deal with these people are not fare dodgers.
 

NightatLaira

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Good thing you bought a ticket. It's not worth running the risk, especially on FCC where their revenue protection team are notorious for taking the hardest line of enforcement permitted for any (perceived) travel irregularties.

Honestly, if you don't have sufficient fear inside you when you step on one of FCC's trains knowing that you passed up the opportunity to buy a ticket, you're either woefully naive or silly enough not to mind being prosecuted and/or getting a criminal record :p.
Thanks for all the reassurance people. Had I known about the permit to travel machines I would have bought one.

I am intrigued by this post though; how could you get a criminal record from this in a worst case scenario? I thought if you were offering to pay: the worst they can give you is a penalty fare (£20) +full price standard ticket OR twice the single journey fare to where you are going (whichever is higher)?

I thought criminal records / travel irregularity notices were reserved for people who were caught lying e.g. Forging tickets. lying about where they actually came from, pretending to have lost their ticket when they never had one in the first place, hiding in toilets, etc.
 

thedbdiboy

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Thanks for all the reassurance people. Had I known about the permit to travel machines I would have bought one.

I am intrigued by this post though; how could you get a criminal record from this in a worst case scenario? I thought if you were offering to pay: the worst they can give you is a penalty fare (£20) +full price standard ticket OR twice the single journey fare to where you are going (whichever is higher)?

I thought criminal records / travel irregularity notices were reserved for people who were caught lying e.g. Forging tickets. lying about where they actually came from, pretending to have lost their ticket when they never had one in the first place, hiding in toilets, etc.
To get a criminal record, you need to be convicted in court. If you genuinely tried to buy a ticket and were unable to, I think such a conviction would be unlikely, regardless of the 'strict liability' in byelaw 18 - the whole point of a court, and a judge, is that the facts are considered and a judgement taking into account the law and all the facts is reached. In such cases the railway would have absolutely no justification for prosecution and any such action is likely to be dismissed. Of course, the problem is that most people are not willing to go through the time, hassle and stress of testing this!
 

jon0844

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Some FCC staff also fail to wear name badges, or have their photo IDs (on lanyards) visible. It seems they want to remain anonymous, which they're not allowed to do.

I'm even seeing ticket office staff without name badges now. I do wonder if FCC ever does any 'mystery shopping' to spot these people?

Imagine being paid to go out and get caught by an RPI to see how they dealt with you. What a job that would be!
 

AlterEgo

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Imagine being paid to go out and get caught by an RPI to see how they dealt with you. What a job that would be!
That's an idea that may actually have some merit. It's one thing for Passenger Focus and industry publications to conduct research about customer experience at the booking office, and quite another to see how many revenue protection staff are doing their jobs incorrectly. I would argue that they are both of equal importance. People forget that RPIs/RPOs are customer service staff, too.
 

tsr

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Some FCC staff also fail to wear name badges, or have their photo IDs (on lanyards) visible. It seems they want to remain anonymous, which they're not allowed to do.
I always, without fail, check the ID cards/badges of all RPIs in anything other than full uniform - and sometimes when they are in what I consider to be full uniform. The reason for this is that Rule 5 of the SRA's Penalty Fare Rules (2002) may be breached if they are not complying, and obviously Rule 1 and Rule 13.1 must be applied as required. However, generally speaking, a word with the relevant manager or other customer service staff ensures that all is in order from that point forward, which is the "common sense" approach.

That's not to say that I am confrontational or aggressive towards RPIs, because I am not - I always do my very best to interact with people courteously and comply with the NRCoC, as required.
 

ralphchadkirk

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There is no requirement to wear your ID on a lanyard, or wear it visibly. The only requirement is that the collector has an ID somewhere on their person and will produce it if asked.

Company procedures may differ from the Rules but the above is the minimum.


Sent from my iPhone 4 using Tapatalk
 

jon0844

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FCC has told me directly that it expects staff to wear a name badge. That includes revenue officers (who can and do just have their first name on it). Many don't - and I've noticed over time that it's usually the same people that don't bother, so it's not likely to be a case of them simply forgetting every now and then.

Many will wear a lanyard too with their ID/staff pass/travel card (whatever it is), and I have no idea if they have to do that - but I guess they would as it's convenient if it also operates the gateline. Revenue also carry what looks like a police warrant card, and they often flash it in the same way (i.e. too quick for you to look at properly). I don't know how you're supposed to know if it is genuine though!
 

RJ

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I came across two FCC RPIs at Harringay today, both of whom were wearing name badges. They didn't look at all scary although I could see in their faces that they weren't the type to tolerate any nonsense.
 

jon0844

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And most of the RPIs FCC employ are very polite and courteous.

Like with the police (and especially PCSOs) it's often the ones that look like people you shouldn't mess with that are nicest, while those who are weak and poorly trained try and act tough by bullying.
 

NightatLaira

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And most of the RPIs FCC employ are very polite and courteous.

Like with the police (and especially PCSOs) it's often the ones that look like people you shouldn't mess with that are nicest, while those who are weak and poorly trained try and act tough by bullying.
So assuming a person is met by FCC revenue protection without a ticket on a train, and is honest about where they came from, and where they're going to and doesn't try and hide in a toilet; it's assumingly going to be either:

a ticket sale (if they have a genuine reason, i.e. ticket machine was broken)

OR:

a fine +ticket / double the usual fare less any discounts (if their reason is less than satisfactory: e.g. 'queue was too long at ticket machine and would've missed my train', etc.)
 

scotsman

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a fine +ticket / double the usual fare less any discounts (if their reason is less than satisfactory: e.g. 'queue was too long at ticket machine and would've missed my train', etc.)
NO! :lol: A penalty fare, not a fine. A fine can only be isued by a court.

Anyway, it's an interesting scenario. Reminds me of how the other day, I had no opportunity to purchase a ticket for the entire journey. At my starting station the machine only took cards, onboard the Conductor didn't come around, and at my destination, the ticket office was closed and the machine only took cards!
 

yorkie

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So assuming a person is met by FCC revenue protection without a ticket on a train...
Then they would be asked some questions, and depending on the answers and the full reasons for this, they may be offered the full range of tickets (including discounts), or issued a Penalty Fare, or have their details taken for a possible prosecution (the customer may be interviewed under caution or may be sent a letter asking for their version of events).

A fine can only be issued (by a court) if a prosecution is successful.

An expensive fare (ie, a Penalty Fare in suburban areas, or an Anytime for long distance journeys) is not a fine.
 
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