penalty fares

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jb2012

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i travelled a couple of months ago on an off peak return ticket to london which cost me £13. when i got back to the gate at my starting station i put the ticket in and it was rejected. I showed it to a member of staff who pointed out it was the outward part of the ticket. I definitely had the other half (I used it to work the automatic gates when I started my return journey so it must have fallen out when I pulled my ticket from my pocket as i got off the train). I was told I had to pay a £46 penalty fare. I thought that was excessive. I offered to go and look for the ticket but was told I had to have it in my possesion at all times. I have a receipt to prove I have paid which I proffered at the time. Now I have a letter saying notice of intention to prosecute me in the magistrates court saying 'I entered a train for the purpose of travelling without a ticket entitling to travel' and asking for my comments. I obviously did have a ticket when I entered the train and I suspect when I disembarked. A trip to the magistrates court feels a bit over the top for an accident but being charged nearly four times the cost of the ticket for an accident also seems excessive.
How do I find out the correct fine, and what if anything should I write in response to this letter
 
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Brucey

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Which train company is this? Each has slightly different procedures with different outcomes experienced from different people. (I can already guess which one it is)

The Railway Byelaws require you to present a valid ticket when asked by an authorised person. This offence is strict liability, but non-recordable (so it won't appear on criminal record checks).

Have a look for other threads on the matter, where you will see people taken to court for considerably lower fares. You will also see posts on out of court settlements that people have made.

As for the fine, this is decided by the Magistrate. Again, have a look at previous threads to see examples of fines.

This is the exact wording of the 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:
(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.
 

island

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I think you might have been charged with the wrong offence, but they can probably change it to 18 (2) instead.

Unfortunately, as you chose not to resolve the matter on the spot by paying the penalty fare, charged to someone who makes a genuine mistake, you have now found yourself in a position where you have a court visit ahead of you unless you settle the matter in advance. It is often possible to write to the train operating company in question offering a sum of money (which will definitely be into three figures) for the matter to be taken no further, and offers are regularly accepted for first-time offenders.
 

yorkie

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Welcome to the forum.
I was told I had to pay a £46 penalty fare. I thought that was excessive.
If you boarded a Penalty Fare train at a Penalty Fare station, and you were unable to produce, when requested, a ticket for your entire journey, then a Penalty Fare is applicable. This is priced at £20, or twice the price of the Anytime (Day) Single, whichever is the greater. So if the Anytime Single fare is £23, then that makes the Penalty Fare £46.
I offered to go and look for the ticket but was told I had to have it in my possession at all times.
Yes, that is correct.
I have a receipt to prove I have paid which I proffered at the time.
The rules state that you must produce a ticket, not a receipt.
Now I have a letter saying notice of intention to prosecute me in the magistrates court saying 'I entered a train for the purpose of travelling without a ticket entitling to travel' and asking for my comments. I obviously did have a ticket when I entered the train and I suspect when I disembarked. A trip to the magistrates court feels a bit over the top for an accident but being charged nearly four times the cost of the ticket for an accident also seems excessive.
How do I find out the correct fine, and what if anything should I write in response to this letter
If you are refusing to pay the Penalty Fare which is now due, then they can prosecute you.

If it's not too late, I would pay that Penalty Fare if I were you!

However if it is too late, you may be able to settle out of court, which would involve paying the £46 fare due, plus their costs. Some Train Companies are more willing to negotiate an out of court settlement than others.

If you do not reach a settlement and the matter goes to court, it is a strict liability matter, so a conviction would be quite straightforward, and you would then have to pay the fare due, plus their costs, plus a fine determined by the Court.
 

rdwarr

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How can this be strict liability? OP says he is being prosecuted for "I entered a train for the purpose of travelling without a ticket " and there seems to be no evidence whatsoever to prove that that was the case.
Sure, there are other strict liability offences which could apply but, at the moment, that's not what's being talked about.
 

Urban Gateline

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It's strict liability in the sense that a Byelaw 18 prosecution has no defence if the defendant was not able to produce a valid ticket when asked for by a member of railway staff.
 

Brucey

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How can this be strict liability? OP says he is being prosecuted for "I entered a train for the purpose of travelling without a ticket " and there seems to be no evidence whatsoever to prove that that was the case.
Sure, there are other strict liability offences which could apply but, at the moment, that's not what's being talked about.

If you've exited a train then you've obviously entered it somewhere...
 

jb2012

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I found something similar when looked on the www.nationalrail.co.uk website (is that an official website?) It says ‘The penalty is £20 or twice the full single fare from the station where the passenger got on the train to the next station at which the train stops, whichever is the greater’ quoted. \not entirely clear but I was guessing that meant twice the single fare to where I got on/off but that wouldn’t be £46. Is it the fare to the next station after mine?
it also says ‘To avoid paying a Penalty Fare, you must purchase a valid ticket to your destination for the class of travel you wish to use before starting your journey’ so I didn’t know if that applied to lost tickets too.
 
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island

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The penalty fare would be twice the full fare (i.e. anytime, not off-peak) from where you boarded to where you got off.
 

yorkie

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I found something similar when looked on the www.nationalrail.co.uk website (is that an official website?)
It is official.
It says ‘The penalty is £20 or twice the full single fare from the station where the passenger got on the train to the next station at which the train stops, whichever is the greater’ quoted. \not entirely clear but I was guessing that meant twice the single fare to where I got on/off but that wouldn’t be £46. Is it the fare to the next station after mine?
it also says ‘To avoid paying a Penalty Fare, you must purchase a valid ticket to your destination for the class of travel you wish to use before starting your journey’ so I didn’t know if that applied to lost tickets too.
Without knowing the details of your journey it is very difficult to comment. If you like, you could send me a PM and I can look up what the fare should be.

Is it possible you are looking at Off Peak prices, rather than Anytime prices? As Island says, it would be twice the Anytime fare. For some journeys (e.g. Swindon to Reading) the Anytime fare is a huge amount more than the cheapest fare, perhaps three times higher, while for others (e.g. York to Sheffield) it's negligible, a matter of pennies.
 

DaveNewcastle

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. . . it also says ‘To avoid paying a Penalty Fare, you must purchase a valid ticket to your destination for the class of travel you wish to use before starting your journey’ so I didn’t know if that applied to lost tickets too.
It does.
That statement is just one of many public-facing attempts to explain the position that a lawful passenger must be in.
As you have seen, the Offence is normally detected by a passenger failing to to produce a valid ticket when requested. Whether that arises from the passenger never having bought one, or having lost it, or a number of other possible explanations, the fact remains quite simple: 'did the passenger produce a valid ticket when requested?' .
The answer should only be 'yes' or 'no'.

I agree with rdwarr up to a point, that the Offence may be incorrectly noted in the letter you've received. This puts you an interesting position. You are, I will guess, guilty of the strict liability Byelaw Offence which I refered to above. However, you are not accused of that. You are not even being asked to comment on that possibility. You are being investigated for a different Offence; only you and the railway Company will know (and I don't want you telling us in public on here), but it might just be the case that there is no Evidence to substantiate the Offence of "boarding a train with intent . . . ".
Clearly, if there is no Evidence to support the incorrect Claim, then you should not be attempting to make an out-of-court settlement for another offence for which you seem to have implied guilt (even if it was accidental that you lost the ticket).

Never apologise for something that you've not been accused of. It is always taken as an admission of guilt.
 

34D

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I think you might have been charged with the wrong offence, but they can probably change it to 18 (2) instead.

Do they have 6 months from the date of the offence to lay the information before the mags? Though there is the slip rule....
 

jb2012

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I looked on the nationalrail.co.uk website earlier today, They have 3 fares:- anytime, off peak and first class. I wouldn’t tally with any of them. I assume prices wont have been different/higher 3 months ago.
 

DaveNewcastle

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I think you might have been charged with the wrong offence, but they can probably change it to 18 (2) instead.
Ahem.
A mistake by a Prosecutor is not to be overlooked. Please!

They can 'change it'. But if not 'changed' through proper process, then this is a fine example of a case that can be allowed to proceed with impunity; provided the Accused does not incriminate themselves by offering to make a settlement! I would expect the Prosecution to either withdraw the Claim in pre-trial discussion, or for the Bench to dismiss it.

The services of any High Street Criminal Lawyer should be adequate, though will no doubt cost more than the Penalty Fare, unless Leagl Aid can be assured.

But there's no point in making an apology and/or proposal to offer a settlement (which is of course predicated on the assumption that the claim will not be prosecuted), if you then take my advice and let it go forward only for the Prosecution to be challenged for want of Evidence of the mistaken Offence in Court.

Though there is the slip rule....
I'm not sure I understand how your reference applies to the OP's circumstances, the slip rule refers to errors or omissions in Judgements or Sentences. Not to errors in Evidence or Statute.
 
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exile

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Strictly speaking you breach byelaw 18(2) even in the following scenario:-
1. When asked to produce your ticket you can't find it straight away
2. 10 minutes later on again being asked to produce it you find the ticket in your other pocket.
(though even the most mendacious TOC would be unlikely to prosecute in this case)

18(1) is by definition very hard to prove - but 18(2) is easy. If you can't produce the ticket straight away you're guilty.
 
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