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Stopped for travelling on an expired railcard - email before letter?

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H2D

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4 May 2021
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London
Hello,

I was recently stopped at Stansted Airport for travelling on an expired railcard (which I had forgotten had expired tbh - it was a stupid oversight on my part since I rarely take the train anymore but doesn’t make it any less excusable). I’ve never done anything like this before, and have since looked through my records and have only made one train journey since my railcard expired and it looks like I didn’t use the railcard on that journey.

I want to avoid a court process and would be keen to settle. I haven’t received any correspondence from the TOC. My question is, could I email GA ahead of them sending a letter and explaining I’d be keen to pay the full fare and any other reasonable costs incurred and have the matter closed rather than wait for a letter etc?

Objective is to get it resolved and avoid anxiety etc as well as risk of missing the letter
 
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Fawkes Cat

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Welcome to the forum.

The first question is whether when you were stopped, any of your details were taken. If nothing was noted down then effectively the railways have had a firm word with you, and no further action will follow. But be careful to make sure in future that you do have a valid railcard if you book a railcard ticket!

If details were taken (and if your railcard is on your phone rather than paper then I think that all that's needed is your railcard number as that will give enough details for the railway to get back in touch with you) then the railway may get back in touch with you - or they may not. And the bad news is that you'll have to wait for maybe seven months to be certain that they won't be in touch. This is because for practical purposes if the railway want to take you to court then they need to tell the court within six months of the incident - and it can take the court a few weeks to then get in touch with you.

But it's most likely that if the railways do get in touch with you it will be within a few weeks of the incident. So while you can't be certain until maybe seven months have passed, you can start relaxing after maybe six weeks or so.

If the railways do get in touch with you, most likely they will ask for your side of the story. They may well tell you that this is in preparation to take you to court. At that point, don't panic - the impression we get is that most cases are settled out of court. So if the railway write to you, explain (briefly and courteously) that you made a mistake and that you have learnt from this mistake and won't do it again. Offer to pay the train fare that you should have paid, plus the costs that the railway will have incurred.

It is then most likely that the railway will offer you a settlement - after the train fare, they will probably want something around a hundred pounds for their costs. If you accept this, this will make it an expensive lesson - but the whole issue will be resolved and will not go to court.

If you read through what I've written, you'll see that I start virtually every sentence with 'it's most likely'. That's because the railway could legally go straight to taking you to court. But that very rarely happens, so while I can't rule it out of happening, it's not what I would expect.

You may also want to have a look at one or two of the recent threads on this 'Disputes & Prosecutions' forum. From them, you will see that cases which do end up in court (albeit for a rather different offence) result in needing to pay quite a lot more than an out of court settlement. And you'll also see that at the moment not everyone who is found without the railcard they said they had is ending up in trouble. But overall, you'll see that no one goes to prison. So please try not to be too stressed about this.
 

H2D

Member
Joined
4 May 2021
Messages
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Location
London
Thanks! They did take my details and took my (physical) railcard. I stayed and answered all the questions even when they told me I could go

From reading other threads on here, it seems that the next step is either some verification letter asking for my version of events, and if lucky, potentially an offer to settle, and if unlucky an intent to prosecute.

I’m just wondering if rather than eating for the above letters, I email them from the outset, apologise and ask if I can pay and have the matter closed? Or do I need to wait for their letter first?
 

Haywain

Veteran Member
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15,556
Thanks! They did take my details and took my (physical) railcard. I stayed and answered all the questions even when they told me I could go

From reading other threads on here, it seems that the next step is either some verification letter asking for my version of events, and if lucky, potentially an offer to settle, and if unlucky an intent to prosecute.

I’m just wondering if rather than eating for the above letters, I email them from the outset, apologise and ask if I can pay and have the matter closed? Or do I need to wait for their letter first?
You would be better to wait for the letter to arrive.
 

Hadders

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Associate Staff
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13,360
Welcome to the forum!

We've had a number of similar threads over the last few weeks. I've put below the advice I normally give to people who request help from the forum in similar circumstances to yours. There is no point in contacting the train company before this letter arrives.

You are likely to receive a letter from the train company (or an investigation company acting on their behalf) which will probably take a few weeks to arrive saying that they have received a report, are considering prosecuting you and asking for your version of events. It is important that you engage with and reply to this letter. You might want to include the following in your reply:

- That you are sorry for what has happened
- What you have learned from the incident
- That you are keen to settle the matter without the need for court action
- Offer to pay the outstanding fare and the train company's administrative costs in dealing with the matter

Make sure your reply is short and concise, don't give a sob story - they've heard it all before. Most train companies are usually prepared to offer an administrative settlement (commonly known as an out of court settlement) for people who engage with the process and who haven't come to their attention before. There is no guarantee of this and the train company would be well within their rights to prosecute you in the magistrates court.

If you are offered a settlement the amount varies depending on the train company and circumstances but tend to be a few hundred pounds plus the outstanding fare. An out of court settlement might appear to be a fine, but it isn't and you won't have a criminal record as a result of accepting one.
 

Steve Turner

Member
Joined
15 May 2021
Messages
13
Location
Chelmsford
Hello,

I was recently stopped at Stansted Airport for travelling on an expired railcard (which I had forgotten had expired tbh - it was a stupid oversight on my part since I rarely take the train anymore but doesn’t make it any less excusable). I’ve never done anything like this before, and have since looked through my records and have only made one train journey since my railcard expired and it looks like I didn’t use the railcard on that journey.

I want to avoid a court process and would be keen to settle. I haven’t received any correspondence from the TOC. My question is, could I email GA ahead of them sending a letter and explaining I’d be keen to pay the full fare and any other reasonable costs incurred and have the matter closed rather than wait for a letter etc?

Objective is to get it resolved and avoid anxiety etc as well as risk of missing the letter
I was stopped there on 25 February 2021. I have emailed GA Prosecutions on the day having been cautioned by a Revenue Officer. GA's response was that there is a file pending but they can't comment as they don't have it. I was asked for my mitigation at that time which was holy inappropriate because I was not informed of what offence I alleged to have committed (13 pages of 75 paragraphs surrounding the Trainline app storing dormant railcards and a Guard on another part of my journey inspecting my ticket and being very happy with it...)

The Single Justice Procedure Notice arrived today, not to far off 3 months later. Fortunately I was furious from the outset and have documented everything so nothing is forgotten.

They have offered an out of court settlement of £150, but the English on the Officer's statement needs a lot to be desired, so I would be surprised if they really want that cross examined in court. But thus far I have been 110% compliant and they have escalated and escalated. I am not forced into a position of seeking legal advice before I proceed with them.

You can email them on [email protected]. I offered to pay over and above what was owed on the day and here we are........
 

island

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Joined
30 Dec 2010
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16,245
Location
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the English on the Officer's statement needs a lot to be desired, so I would be surprised if they really want that cross examined in court.
Well you’ve managed eight mistakes in three paragraphs…
I was stopped there on 25 February 2021. I have emailed GA Prosecutions on the day having been cautioned by a Revenue Officer. GA's response was that there is a file pending but they can't comment as they don't have it. I was asked for my mitigation at that time which was holy inappropriate because I was not informed of what offence I alleged to have committed (13 pages of 75 paragraphs surrounding the Trainline app storing dormant railcards and a Guard on another part of my journey inspecting my ticket and being very happy with it...)

The Single Justice Procedure Notice arrived today, not to far off 3 months later. Fortunately I was furious from the outset and have documented everything so nothing is forgotten.

They have offered an out of court settlement of £150, but the English on the Officer's statement needs a lot to be desired, so I would be surprised if they really want that cross examined in court. But thus far I have been 110% compliant and they have escalated and escalated. I am not forced into a position of seeking legal advice before I proceed with them.
People in glass houses shouldn’t throw stones.
 

H2D

Member
Joined
4 May 2021
Messages
6
Location
London
Just to update on this - I received a letter and was offered a settlement (£100 in total) which I paid using the automated phone line.
I’ve received a reference number and also requested an SMS receipt but haven’t received that.
Is the matter now closed? Should I email them for confirmation?
 

Fawkes Cat

Established Member
Joined
8 May 2017
Messages
3,042
Just to update on this - I received a letter and was offered a settlement (£100 in total) which I paid using the automated phone line.
I’ve received a reference number and also requested an SMS receipt but haven’t received that.
Is the matter now closed? Should I email them for confirmation?
It's closed. It's annoying about the SMS receipt, but probably not worth worrying about. If you're worried that more could happen, hang on to the letter, and to a copy of your bank statement that shows the payment going out to the railway. In the unlikely event of there being any problem then that should be enough to demonstrate why you thought you had paid and brought it all to an end.
 
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