Student asleep on train

Discussion in 'Disputes & Prosecutions' started by peterWa, 24 Jan 2016.

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  1. peterWa

    peterWa New Member

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    Hi Everyone, any advice would be much appreciated.

    On November 2015 my 18 year old son left his rucksack containing all his University books on a London bus. As soon as he realised, he contacted TFL who informed him that the books were being held at the lost property office in Potters Bar. The next day he went to Kings Cross, tapped in with his Oyster card, and took a train to Potters Bar. He naively assumed that, since he had left his books on a London bus, the relevant lost property depot would be in London, and that possessions lost in Central London would not be taken out of Central London. He was not aware that Potters Bar was not deemed to be in London and therefore not part of the Oyster card network. He has a monthly Oyster card which he uses for all his travel in London. Taking the wrong means of transport to Potters Bar was his first mistake. His second mistake was that he then fell asleep on the train and woke in Welwyn Garden City. He immediately left the train and approached a transport employee to find out where he was and to ask their advice about how to get to Potters Bar. He was directed to another platform and told that he needed to go through a ticket barrier to do this. This was when he realised that there was nowhere to tap his oyster card because, as he was about to discover, he was no longer in the Oyster zone.

    When he explained his predicament to the gentleman in question, he was told that he would have to pay a fine of £20 for travelling out of London without a ticket. He was also told that, although he had left my bags on a London bus, Potters Bar was not in fact covered by his oyster card either. Given the completely unintentional nature of his mistake(s), he assumed that he would have been allowed to buy a return ticket from Kings Cross to Potter Bar, and learn from his mistake. He now realised however that he was also going to have to buy a return ticket from Potters Bar to Welwyn Garden City. Having purchased the required tickets for his over-sleeping, he genuinely felt that an additional fine of £20, for something that was so obviously a mistake, was excessive, and he refused to pay the additional fine. He has subsequently received a "notice of intention to prosecute" from Govia Thameslink Railways. He completed the form, as requested, explaining his side of the story and apologising, and then yesterday received a 2 line letter back saying that "having considered the case, they are going forward with the case" .

    Clearly they do not believe him. However, his mother and I have spoken to him at length and are absolutely certain that he is telling the truth - and I'm quite a cynic at the best of times. He should have paid the £20 fine at the time, and moved on, but he didn't. He felt that it was unjust. What would you advise him to do now?

    Thank you in advance for any help you are able to provide
     
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  3. bb21

    bb21 Moderator Staff Member Moderator

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    Can you clarify exactly what they charged him for?

    Do you mean they charged him a Potters Bar - Welwyn GC return, and on top of that, a Penalty Fare (not actually a fine although it may feel like one) of £20?
     
  4. najaB

    najaB Veteran Member

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    How was his Kings Cross to Potter's Bar travel covered? Did he purchase a Kings Cross to Potters Bar ticket as well?
     
  5. peterWa

    peterWa New Member

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    Thank you for coming back to me so quickly.

    1) When he entered Kings Cross Station, he used his Oyster card to log in at the platform. He subsequently bought the ticket at Welwyn Garden City when he awoke and approached the station guard and was told that his Oyster card was not applicable in Potters Bar (let alone Welwyn Garden City).

    2) On the original letter it says that he was stopped and questioned in regard to the following alleged offence : "entering a train for the purpose of travelling without a ticket entitling travel."

    Thank you for your help.
     
  6. bb21

    bb21 Moderator Staff Member Moderator

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    I still don't know what he bought. I am trying to ascertain whether he was charged for the correct thing or not but not getting much help here.

    When you said he subsequently bought a ticket at Welwyn GC, do you mean a Potters Bar - Welwyn GC ticket? Return ticket I assume? I assume he walked up to the RPI/gateline staff voluntarily as he got off the train?

    If that were correct, how did they find out that he had no valid ticket to Potters Bar? What conversation took place?

    According to your original account, he did not realize that he needed to buy a ticket until he was at the gateline. Did they sell him a ticket then ask for a Penalty Fare? This doesn't seem to tally up with your second post so some clarification on exactly what happened would be good. Did he pay for a ticket at Welwyn GC? If so, what ticket (and how much) so we can doublecheck. How did the conversation go between your son and the gateline staff/RPI?

    It is all very confusing to me. Is there any chance you son can describe what happened to us himself, as second-hand tales can very easily include mistakes/errors.
     
  7. ian959

    ian959 Member

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    The fact that they are proceeding with the case does NOT indicate that they don't believe your son. He was (correctly) offered the penalty fare of £20 (note NOT a fine) as it was a genuine mistake that he did not have a ticket for travel from Kings Cross and Potters Bar. He refused to pay the penalty fare, so that offer was withdrawn.

    Since your son at no time had a valid ticket for the journey he did intend to make to Potters Bar, and which fare remains unpaid, he has no option but to plead guilty, for he is indeed guilty. The best option now would be to try and phone the TOC and see if they can be persuaded to settle, or to approach the prosecutor on the day of the court appearance to see if they would be willing to settle and withdraw the court action.

    The fact that they ARE proceeding to court with this suggests that there MAY be something more to the tale. Is this the first time your son has been caught without a valid ticket for instance? Did he use any abusive language towards the railway personnel for instance? To my mind it just seems odd that they are not willing to settle if this is a first offence.
     
  8. peterWa

    peterWa New Member

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    Thank you all for your excellent replies. To BB21 and ian959, I will ask my son to respond to your specific enquiries and he can give you more detail, many thanks, Peter.
     
  9. James Wake

    James Wake Member

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    The RPI was wrong in that you can get two Tfl buses to Potters Bar, the 298 from Arnos Grove (for Piccadilly Line) and the 313 from Chingford (London Overground). You can use an Oyster on both.

    Unfortunately it does seem in this case trying to meet an out of court settlement would be beneficial to your son.
     
  10. Tim R-T-C

    Tim R-T-C Established Member

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    Another person who thinks that the world is (covered by) their Oyster.

    To the OP:

    While I have no reason to doubt you son's story is true, he has fallen foul of two very common fare dodger excuses. The falling asleep on the train, thus getting much further on their ticket than they paid for and the overtravelling Oyster - there have been a couple of major cases in the news in the last few years of people routinely using Oyster cards to travel into London and saving thousands of pounds on season ticket fares.

    The usual advise in this scenario is to seek an out-of-court settlement, but I will let more knowledgeable forum members advise on how best to seek this.
     
  11. peterWa

    peterWa New Member

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    Hi Tim R-T-C, I thought that there had to be "intent" on his part? Also, since he lives in London, and is a student in London, he can clearly show that he is not going in and out of London on a regular basis. Furthermore he has never been to Welwyn Garden City before and doesn't know anyone in Welwyn Garden City, so he could again clearly show that he was not trying to go further on the train than he was entitled. That may, however, all be irrelevant because he clearly did not have the right ticket for the journey to Potters Bar in the first place even though he didn't think that he needed one (over and above his monthly oyster card).
     
  12. najaB

    najaB Veteran Member

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    Not for 'simple' ticketing offences, there just needs to be travel which isn't covered by a valid ticket. The fact that a penalty fare was offered indicates that it was seen as just such a simple case.
     
  13. Greenback

    Greenback Emeritus Moderator

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    Your son has made an attempt to explain matters but this has not been accepted by the TOC for whatever reason. It might be worth him writing again, offering a sizeable amount of money to compensate the TOC for the time and trouble in dealing with this issue, and perhaps they may think again. They are under no obligation to do so, but it might be worth a try.

    In the meantime, he can and should reflect on how assumptions can be wrong, and that mistakes can have consequences, whether they are deliberate or accidental. He is young enough to treat this as a learning experience that will serve him well in the future.
     
  14. A-driver

    A-driver Established Member

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    Should point out that most of the trains serving kings X-potters bar have an auto announcement at Finsbury Park clearly stating that anyone travelling on an Oyster card must leave the train here...
     
  15. Via Bank

    Via Bank Member

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    But as someone who travels on GN very frequently, I have noticed that the PIS only seems to be working around 75% of the time on the 365s (which I believe have no announcements concerning Oyster), and only around 20% of the time on the 321s. The 317s and 313s have no PIS or announcements at all.

    So it's really pot luck whether you'll get that announcement, depending on the type of train you get, whether it's in working order, and whether the Driver bothered to set it up correctly.

    On occasion the CIS at the stations displays "Oyster and Contactless only valid as far north as Crews Hill or Hadley Wood" - but again it is pot luck as to whether the CIS is displaying this, or a general notice about engineering works, or irrelevant real time information about "minor delays on the Jubilee line."

    Aside from this, the only advertising of the boundary is on the GTR network map, with a shaded area that is explained, in tiny, tiny lettering, to be the zone in which Oyster is accepted. One really has to seek this out.

    It's broadly the same situation as a passenger travelling on a 319 to Luton, or Gatwick (pre-boundary change.) And it is to my mind infuriating, because there is no reason the boundaries cannot be advertised with clear, large-lettered posters at stations within the Zones, or on the list of calling points on the CIS - the TOCs just choose not to do so.

    This is not much help to the OP at the moment with the threat of legal action looming. So I think the OP's son should attempt to settle out of court if at all possible (regrettably this is likely to be a three figure sum.) Once the matter is completely settled he should complain, in the strongest possible terms, that the validity of his chosen ticket was not advertised clearly enough and he was left significantly out of pocket as a result - and keep pushing. It's not likely to get GTR to fix anything, but he may at least get some of his money back as a 'goodwill' gesture.
     
  16. Greenback

    Greenback Emeritus Moderator

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    Let's be fair. There are genuine cases where people have fallen asleep and there can be medical factors involved as well. Not everyone who falls asleep does so deliberately, and not all do it to avoid a ticket check.
     
  17. yorkie

    yorkie Administrator Staff Member Administrator

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    I've removed some posts, to keep this thread concise about the OP's case specifically. There is a spin-off thread How genuine mistakes can become much more seriou if anyone wants to post more generally, but please keep the discussion civil ;)

    peterWa - if you have an update for us, please contact us to let us know when to re-open the thread.

    Edit: some clarification has been provided:

    I will re-open the thread when there are any further developments
     
    Last edited: 27 Jan 2016
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