Penalty Fare - Unfairly given? Need advice

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Tom R

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Hi there, hopefully somebody will be able to help me,

Today I was issued with a penalty fare for the second time in 2 weeks (both times the 12:13 train from Wokingham on a Friday, heading towards Sandhurst.

Since September, I have been buying a Return Ticket from Winnersh to Bracknell, and breaking my journey at Wokingham to branch off to Sandhurst on a Return. This works out as the cheapest way for me to travel from Winersh to Sandhurst, onto Bracknell, and finally back home to Winnersh.

I get my travel expensed on the train, so I must provide evidence of all my train tickets, and as such I keep all receipts and tickets I get each month.

I have bought my connecting ticket from Wokingham to Sandhurst on the train every week, but 2 weeks ago the man on the train wasn't interested, and issued me a penalty fare for boarding the train without a valid ticket. As it was only £20, I felt it was less hassle to pay the penalty and move on - just ensuring I buy my ticket at Wokingham from now on.

This is exactly what I did last Friday, but unfortunately I lapsed back to old habits today and only realised 2-3 minutes before the connecting train at Wokingham arrived. I felt that the best option therefore would be to board the train and buy my ticket from the driver, scared that I would be issued another penalty fare.

I boarded the train on the carriage with the driver, and walked direct towards him, but met a ticket inspector/guard first. I saw he had his machine so asked to buy it from him instead. He issued me a penalty fare on the spot, even though I had every intention of buying a valid ticket.

He said at the end that he was being kind to me and that as this was my second offence, he should be interviewing me over it (I didn't catch the reason as to why, but he pointed that as I was over 18 that I was responsible, so this could this mean criminal offence?)

I want to know what the best option for me is - I feel the penalty was unfairly given and I can prove that I had every intention of buying a ticket, backed up by having a valid ticket from the same morning for my previous train, as well as tickets and receipts for every other journey I have taken this month.

Any help and advice would be greatly appreciated,

Thanks
Tom
 
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Hi Tom welcome to the forum.

Were there ticket issuing facilities at the station you started at? This means an open ticket office, ticket machine or permit to travel machine.

If there is, and you ignored them, then unfortunately you are liable to pay a penalty fare.

I don't know the stations involved in your journey well nor the geography of the local area but I'm sure someone with a bit more knowledge of the facilities may be able to help you further.

I felt that the best option therefore would be to board the train and buy my ticket from the driver, scared that I would be issued another penalty fare.
I think the driver has more important things to do then sell you tickets! ;)
 
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barrykas

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Unfortunately, the Revenue Protection staff appear to have correctly issued the Penalty Fares as the timetabled 18 minute connection at Wokingham should provide you with an "opportunity to buy" the ticket you need to Sandhurst there, either from the Ticket Office (supposed to be open until 20:35) or from one of the Ticket Machines.

Alternatively, could you not buy the ticket from Wokingham - Sandhurst at Winnersh when you buy your ticket to Bracknell, assuming you do so from the Ticket Office?
 

Tom R

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At Winnersh station, the manned ticket office closes at about 11am, which is before I bought my ticket (about 11:40). There is a machine, which is where I bought my Winnersh to Bracknell return from, but I don't know how to buy a ticket starting from Wokingham from that machine, so I've always bought my ticket on the connecting train at Wokingham.

There is a ticket office at Wokingham which the ticket can be bought from, but other than last week I've always purchased it on the train with no issue since I started using the train back in September.

The tickets I buy are: Winnersh to Bracknell return - at the machine on Winnersh Station.
Wokingham to Sandhurst return - on the train at Wokingham station.

I've got plenty of tickets I can provide to show I've bought my ticket every week on this train.
 

bb21

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There is a ticket office at Wokingham which the ticket can be bought from, but other than last week I've always purchased it on the train with no issue since I started using the train back in September.

The tickets I buy are: Winnersh to Bracknell return - at the machine on Winnersh Station.
Wokingham to Sandhurst return - on the train at Wokingham station.

I've got plenty of tickets I can provide to show I've bought my ticket every week on this train.

Here is your problem. You have an obligation to purchase a valid ticket before boarding if facilities exist. You had ample time to purchase the second ticket from the ticket office but you didn't, therefore a Penalty Fare is the correct course of action. Intention doesn't come into it. A Penalty Fare is for when people make a mistake. See Question 15 on this leaflet.

As this is your second offence, the RPI is indeed being quite lenient as you could well have been reported for prosecution, at least for a Byelaw 18 offence.

Therefore my advice is to pay your Penalty Fare, and ensure that you always buy a ticket if you have sufficient time at your interchange station. You don't have any ground for appeal.
 

Yew

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And if the OP does not have sufficient time? Due to a late arrival for example?
 

michael769

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And if the OP does not have sufficient time? Due to a late arrival for example?

If the late arrival leaves less than the minimum connection time the OP should seek assistance and advice from staff, I would expect them to authorize him to board the train in that case.
 

FenMan

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I boarded the train on the carriage with the driver, and walked direct towards him, but met a ticket inspector/guard first. I saw he had his machine so asked to buy it from him instead. He issued me a penalty fare on the spot, even though I had every intention of buying a valid ticket.

Without casting any aspersions, I cannot see why you would want to join the front carriage of a Wokingham - Sandhurst service.

- The rear carriage of the three-coach unit used on this service is the most convenient for using the exit ramp at Sandhurst.
- In this instance you wanted to buy a ticket on the train, however the guard always despatches from the rear cab of these units, so going to the front carriage is the furthest you can get from an on-train ticket buying opportunity.
 

island

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As you chose not to use the available ticket office, the Penalty Fare was correctly issued on this occasion and you were correctly told that you could have been reported for prosecution.

Drivers do not issue tickets.
 

yorkie

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The rule is you are supposed to buy at the first opportunity. If there is no facility to buy the required tcket(s) at the origin, and no opportunity to buy on board the first train, then the next opportunity may well be at the interchange station, if there are facilities at that station.

It is not totally clear to me, from the OPs posts what opportunities there were on his journey.

But if there is insufficient time to buy at the interchange, without missing the train, then that doesn't count as an opportunity to buy in my opinion, but if anyone is aware of being possibly in that situation, I would encourage you to write to the TOC in advance if possible, as I am aware of an ongoing matter involving a certain TOC trying to deny these rights and Passenger Focus are investigating that matter. So it would be good if anyone who may be in this position is willing to get involved (please PM me). It is not clear to me if that is the case for the OP or not.
 

island

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The OP mentioned that he had forgotten to buy his ticket at the interchange and only realised it 2-3 minutes before departure. This tends to contradict the suggestion that there was insufficient time to buy.

It might be worth him buying all his tickets online and collecting them at Winnersh.
 

Parham Wood

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This once again demonstrates that the message about the need to buy tickets before travelling is not getting through. The practice of kind railway staff selling tickets on board trains to "offenders" also is not helpful (although I fully support discretionary leniency when customers are not fully aware of the rules etc..). It would appear, as in this case, the staff often do not explain to their customers the rules with sufficient clarity including why they can sell to some customers and not others. It is also confusing to customers that if you board at a station where there is means to buy a ticket you are breaking the rules but if you board where ticket purchase is not possible you are not. Customers will just see someone selling tickets on a train and assume anyone can do this.

I fully realise staff may not have time to explain in detail so perhaps they should have a simple leaflet explaining the rules to hand out.
 

island

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Tickets sold on board in a penalty fare area have a warning on the back that the passenger could have been issued a penalty fare. Is that not enough?
 

Parham Wood

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At Winnersh station, the manned ticket office closes at about 11am, which is before I bought my ticket (about 11:40). There is a machine, which is where I bought my Winnersh to Bracknell return from, but I don't know how to buy a ticket starting from Wokingham from that machine, so I've always bought my ticket on the connecting train at Wokingham.

There is a ticket office at Wokingham which the ticket can be bought from, but other than last week I've always purchased it on the train with no issue since I started using the train back in September.

The tickets I buy are: Winnersh to Bracknell return - at the machine on Winnersh Station.
Wokingham to Sandhurst return - on the train at Wokingham station.

I've got plenty of tickets I can provide to show I've bought my ticket every week on this train.

If the OP could not work out how to buy a Wokingham - Sandhurst ticket from the machine would it be possible to buy it from the guard on the Winnersh - Bracknell train although there would not be much time for this, so the question is more hypothetical in this case?
 

island

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The guard doesn't tend to venture out of the back cab on the Reading-Waterloo services because the stops are so close together and the stock on that route does not, AFAIK, have control panels at the doors.
 

Antman

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The guard doesn't tend to venture out of the back cab on the Reading-Waterloo services because the stops are so close together and the stock on that route does not, AFAIK, have control panels at the doors.


Thats been my experience too and I've never heard of drivers selling tickets
 

DaveNewcastle

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Lets just remember, that Tom R was very clearly asking us for advice and help in respect of his 'penalty fare' - the details of train layout and staff duties is not helping.

To answer the specific question of feeling that the Penalty was issued unfairly and that you had every intention of paying for your ticket on-board, I will say that is is quite possible for this outcome simultaneously to feel unfair and yet to be correct. The intention of paying for your ticket is not adequate, and (as others have said), where there are opportunities to buy before boarding, it automatically becomes a breach of the Regulations not to do so; whether with an intention to pay or not.

In some respects, I find that your description suggests that you may have been more fortunate than others, many of whom every day are interviewed and assessed for potential prosecution; prosecutions which succeed in their thousands, and all for simply boarding a train without a ticket.

Surely best to pay and move on.

In respect of yorkie's concern about adequate time at an interchange station, I will agree fully with the argument that if there is not adequate time then it does not constitute a failure to buy. However, I really wouldn't even consider developing that argument over £20. I'd consider the time, effort and possible anxiety is out of proportion to the sum involved.
 
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barrykas

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In respect of yorkie's concern about adequate time at an interchange station, I will agree fully with the argument that if there is not adequate time then it does not constitute a failure to buy.

In this particular instance, there's only one train an hour between Wokingham and Sandhurst, but the connection time at Wokingham is 18 minutes, which should be sufficient to purchase the required ticket as there appear to be multiple TVMs at the station (one per platform plus two in the ticket hall according to NRE) as well as the ticket office.
 

Airlink

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Hi there, hopefully somebody will be able to help me,

Today I was issued with a penalty fare for the second time in 2 weeks (both times the 12:13 train from Wokingham on a Friday, heading towards Sandhurst.

Since September, I have been buying a Return Ticket from Winnersh to Bracknell, and breaking my journey at Wokingham to branch off to Sandhurst on a Return. This works out as the cheapest way for me to travel from Winersh to Sandhurst, onto Bracknell, and finally back home to Winnersh.

I get my travel expensed on the train, so I must provide evidence of all my train tickets, and as such I keep all receipts and tickets I get each month.

I have bought my connecting ticket from Wokingham to Sandhurst on the train every week, but 2 weeks ago the man on the train wasn't interested, and issued me a penalty fare for boarding the train without a valid ticket. As it was only £20, I felt it was less hassle to pay the penalty and move on - just ensuring I buy my ticket at Wokingham from now on.

This is exactly what I did last Friday, but unfortunately I lapsed back to old habits today and only realised 2-3 minutes before the connecting train at Wokingham arrived. I felt that the best option therefore would be to board the train and buy my ticket from the driver, scared that I would be issued another penalty fare.

I boarded the train on the carriage with the driver, and walked direct towards him, but met a ticket inspector/guard first. I saw he had his machine so asked to buy it from him instead. He issued me a penalty fare on the spot, even though I had every intention of buying a valid ticket.

He said at the end that he was being kind to me and that as this was my second offence, he should be interviewing me over it (I didn't catch the reason as to why, but he pointed that as I was over 18 that I was responsible, so this could this mean criminal offence?)

I want to know what the best option for me is - I feel the penalty was unfairly given and I can prove that I had every intention of buying a ticket, backed up by having a valid ticket from the same morning for my previous train, as well as tickets and receipts for every other journey I have taken this month.

Any help and advice would be greatly appreciated,

Thanks
Tom

Tom, you don't say how often you travel. Is a season ticket not an option?

I would suggest, if you make the same journies on the same days of each week, than to buy the tickets on line in advance. Then they can be collected from the TVM at Winnersh.

Unfortunately just because the guards usually sell tickets on the train, this doesn't necessarily mean that you wouldn't be penalty fared. GWT Guards sell tickets on that line, because quite a few stations along that line either have no facilities or the facilities that are there only accept credit or debit cards. However Wokingham has both a ticket office and TVMs, so there's no real excuse for not getting a ticket from there.
 

Temple Meads

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My favourite part of this thread is that the OP was going to try and buy his ticket from the driver, what would he have done if he had got to the front cab? Knocked on the door and demanded a ticket? :lol: :lol:
 

barrykas

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My favourite part of this thread is that the OP was going to try and buy his ticket from the driver, what would he have done if he had got to the front cab? Knocked on the door and demanded a ticket? :lol: :lol:

Whilst it may seem funny to us, I believe there are some lines in Europe that operate on a "paytrain" basis with passengers paying the driver!
 

Nick W

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If I understand the situation correctly, the TOC in question will not be able to prosecute under the Railway Byelaws.

I think the more complicated matter is whether or not they could prove intent for an RoR prosecution. My belief, but I'm willing to be challenged, is that because the OP was intercepted before he could leave his destination station, they would not be able to prove intent.
 

bb21

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I think the more complicated matter is whether or not they could prove intent for an RoR prosecution. My belief, but I'm willing to be challenged, is that because the OP was intercepted before he could leave his destination station, they would not be able to prove intent.

The question is: does walking past an open ticket office demonstrate intent?

Given that the OP had a fairly long connection (as there is no mention of anything otherwise), and that this is his second time, I would say yes. He should be aware of the requirement to purchase a ticket at the earliest opportunity, and in the absence of anything to the contrary, I think it is reasonable to deduce that he ignored an opportunity at the interchange station.
 

Nick W

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The question is: does walking past an open ticket office demonstrate intent?

Given that the OP had a fairly long connection (as there is no mention of anything otherwise), and that this is his second time, I would say yes. He should be aware of the requirement to purchase a ticket at the earliest opportunity, and in the absence of anything to the contrary, I think it is reasonable to deduce that he ignored an opportunity at the interchange station.

I agree that he ignored an opportunity, but is there any precedence for this among RoR prosecutions, as oppose to leaving the destination station?
 

soil

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The OP's route is slightly confusing for me.

As I understand it:

Winnersh is served by Southwest Trains Reading - Waterloo services, with very FGW services.

The OP wishes to travel Winnersh - Sandhurst - Bracknell - Winnersh, all in one day.

In order to travel to Sandhurst, on FGW's North Downs Line, he must typically change at Wokingham.

He buys a Super Off Peak Day Return at Winnersh, to Bracknell, boarding the 11:51 service towards Waterloo, costing £3.80.

He alights at Wokingham, from where his ticket is valid one further stop towards Waterloo, to Bracknell, but boards a FGW train towards Redhill, 18 minutes after his arrival, for which he has no valid ticket.

He is travelling to Sandhurst, only two short stops from Wokingham, an unmanned station, with no ticket office or barriers, a far cry from Wokingham, which has a ticket office open all day, as well as ticket machines. As he is changing from another service at WOkingham, and has 18 minutes to wait on the same side of the simple two platform station as the manned ticket office and self-service machines, there aren't really any reasonable excuses for not buying a ticket.

As such a guard is likely to believe that he intends to walk off the train at unmanned Sandhurst without paying his fare - especially as he already holds a ticket that will allow him to escape at Bracknell or Wokingham without suspicion.

There really shouldn't be any difficulty, while whiling away 18 minutes on a very dull station, in going into the adjacent ticket office (which is unlikely to be busy) and buying a ticket.
 

bb21

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Pretty much nailed it on the head I think.
 

Tom R

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Thanks everyone for the responses,

To answer a few questions:

I only do the journey to Sandhurst once or twice a week, the other days its a much simpler route from Winnersh to Bracknell return, so buying a season ticket wouldn't be cost effective in my situation.

I may have mistaken the driver for the wrong person - the man I went to get my ticket off is the person who pops his head out of the train at each stop to open the doors and is at the very back carriage. Clearly from your responses, he's not the driver!

It wasn't that I 'Ignored' the ticket machines at Wokingham Station, but more that I've been able to buy the ticket on the train without issue since September, and having never actually read the rules about buying tickets before boarding the train, I felt that this was a perfectly normal way to buy my ticket.

I was hoping that as I have tickets for every journey for the months of March, April and May to hand, with all relevant receipts, that this would be sufficient proof that there was never any intent to dodge the fare.


Out of interest, if he had interviewed me on the spot, what could the consequences have been?
 

samxool

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You couldn't pay for a ticket at Sandhurst even if you wanted to. Not only is there no ticket office, there is also no ticket machine!
 

jb

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If I understand the situation correctly, the TOC in question will not be able to prosecute under the Railway Byelaws.

I think the more complicated matter is whether or not they could prove intent for an RoR prosecution. My belief, but I'm willing to be challenged, is that because the OP was intercepted before he could leave his destination station, they would not be able to prove intent.

Well they can't prosecute at all, since they have dealt with the incident via a PF. Do you mean they couldn't have prosecuted under Byelaws? And if so, whyever not?
 
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