Travel Beyond Validity...

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trainagogo

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Hi folks, just had a penalty ticket for travelling to my station (which doesn't get many stoppers) by changing trains at the next station up the line (2 miles away) and returning.

I took the route as it was recommended on thetrainline, National Rail and the operator's own route planner as the quickest to my destination. The route planners show the same cost whether direct or requiring the additional change (and the tickets are the same!).

I and many locals do the same route weekly and have never had an issue before. Can anyone clarify this situation as, having asked around, no one understands why I have this penalty.

Any assistance much appreciated. :)
 
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bb21

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What is your journey?
 

trainagogo

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Thanks for the quick reply! :)

I've attached the screenshot from National Rail below.
 

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bb21

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I see.

Did you receive a Penalty Fare of £20? If so, you may wish to pay it, if you can afford it, and appeal, as the appeals process does not stop the clock, so you may otherwise find yourself faced with mounting admin charges and bigger struggles fighting them. You should be refunded the £20 once your appeal is upheld.

Obviously keep that screenshot as evidence.
 

trainagogo

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One from Abellio's own website attached - this shows fares and options at that time.
 

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bb21

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Make sure you keep these screenshots as evidence.
 

Bletchleyite

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Agree with the idea of paying it before appeal much as it sounds strange. The railway does behave itself on such matters; if your appeal is accepted (and I see no reason it shouldn't be given the evidence above, though you may find yourself needing to appeal multiple times if they don't read it properly) you will get your 20 quid back. It is in a strange sort of a way almost a deposit showing good faith in that kind of circumstance.

Paying a PF does not (unlike some private parking "fines") constitute acceptance that it was correctly issued.
 

trainagogo

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Agree with the idea of paying it before appeal much as it sounds strange. The railway does behave itself on such matters; if your appeal is accepted (and I see no reason it shouldn't be given the evidence above, though you may find yourself needing to appeal multiple times if they don't read it properly) you will get your 20 quid back. It is in a strange sort of a way almost a deposit showing good faith in that kind of circumstance.

Paying a PF does not (unlike some private parking "fines") constitute acceptance that it was correctly issued.

Thanks Neil, really appreciate the help at this ungodly hour. I'll do this on Monday.

Off-topic, how are these collectors allowed to act? I felt sick to my stomach being escorted off the train but was then ignored when I politely stated my intended route and asked questions. I then asked, given the niceties, why my simple questions were unanswered - the only response I got was that I was being impolite. He then threatened me with arrest if I didn't provide details.

The reason for wanting to get the fastest route home (and I have proof for this too) was the pickup of my poorly son from nursery. In the end I wasn't able to catch the train back (it had left after all this) and I had to get a taxi (also have the receipt for £8.50) to the other station's car park given the next train was over 30 minutes away. I arrived 30 minutes later than I would have at the nursery to find my unwell and upset son with a high temperature, just wanting to go home to bed. :(
 

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I don't think it is intended that the doubleback at Witham be permitted, but the system is not clever enough to recognise that you passed your destination on the first leg of your journey.

I can see why your intended route was refused. Did you provide them with the evidence you presented here at the time? If so, how did they respond? Refusal to provide name and address would be an offence, so I am glad that you didn't fall foul on that front.

That said, send Greater Anglia the receipt. I would expect them to refund the taxi fare in light of the fact that you did nothing wrong based on available information provided by the industry. I cannot guarantee that, however, but if you don't ask, you don't get.

I would hazard a guess that most people would consider it reasonable that a passenger would like to get to his destination using the fastest train(s), but that is not recognised by the industry when the current routing rules were designed, or even if recognised, not acted on, but that is just a side matter not really gonna help with your case.
 

455driver

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Although your ticket is valid (at the moment) you need to pay the penalty fare and then appeal explaining the easement, you will then get your £20 back.

I can this easement disappearing very quickly as there doesn't seem to be any real need for it even late in the evening.
 
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bb21

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It's not an easement. It's down to the fact that Hatfield Peverel is not a timing point on passing trains so the system cannot pick it up. Not easily fixable.
 

trainagogo

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I don't think it is intended that the doubleback at Witham be permitted, but the system is not clever enough to recognise that you passed your destination on the first leg of your journey.

So have I fallen into a grey area of the operator's making then?

I can see why your intended route was refused. Did you provide them with the evidence you presented here at the time? If so, how did they respond?

There was little interest shown in my explanations. A second member of staff read the nursery messages from my phone and I mentioned the route being 7 mins shorter several times - I mentioned thetrainline.com once.
 

455driver

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It's not an easement. It's down to the fact that Hatfield Peverel is not a timing point on passing trains so the system cannot pick it up. Not easily fixable.

Ah okay, I bet they will be working on a fix by 10AM on Monday! :lol:
--- old post above --- --- new post below ---
So have I fallen into a grey area of the operator's making then?
Yep that about sums it up.


There was little interest shown in my explanations. A second member of staff read the nursery messages from my phone and I mentioned the route being 7 mins shorter several times - I mentioned thetrainline.com once.

It isn't 7 minutes 'quicker' though is it, it takes about 3 times as long.
 
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duncanp

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That screenshot from Abellio's own website implies that it is valid to go from Chelmsford to Hatfield Peverel via Witham, as they are willing to sell the OP a ticket for that itinerary.

If they are then going to charge a penalty fare for someone taking that route, is that nt a case of entrapment, ie selling the customer an invalid ticket so that they can then charge him a penalty fare.

Probably not - more likely to be a case of the system can work out the quickest journey between two stations, but is not clever enough to recognise that the journey is not a permitted route.

In either case, it is ridiculuous that a booking engine can sell a customer a ticket via a route that renders him likely to a penalty fare, and I am inclined to think that a court would agree.
 

najaB

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If they are then going to charge a penalty fare for someone taking that route, is that nt a case of entrapment...
Well no, because they aren't being charged of a crime.
In either case, it is ridiculuous that a booking engine can sell a customer a ticket via a route that renders him likely to a penalty fare, and I am inclined to think that a court would agree.
That could be tested if the OP took the TOC to small claims court, but seeing as the PF will be refunded it is difficult to see what the claim would be for.
 

trainagogo

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It isn't 7 minutes 'quicker' though is it, it takes about 3 times as long.

You're right that the route is longer than a direct train. However given the absence of a stopping service when I was at the station, this route was the fastest at the time by 7 mins.
 

Paul Kelly

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To give some context, the reason the journey Chelmsford to Hatfield Peverel via Witham may be permitted is down to the "through trains to and from a common routeing point rule". Page F7 in the Routeing Guide says:
Routeing Guide Section F said:
If there is a common routeing point, the permitted route is the shortest route or a route which is longer by no more than 3 miles. Also permitted is the route followed by direct trains to and from the common routeing point if the journey is made on those trains.
Now Witham is a common routeing point of both Chelmsford and Hatfield Peverel, so the route would appear to be permitted. The text I quoted makes no mention of doubling back being prohibited when applying this rule; indeed it even includes an example of doubling back through an intermediate station short of the routeing point, where the train only stops in one direction, and explicitly says that is OK.

What makes this a greyer area, is that you're doubling back through your destination on the way to Witham, which is probably the main reason why RPIs don't like people doing this - it just doesn't "feel" right to them, but it's a very grey area IMHO.
 

trainagogo

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Many thanks all. I genuinely appreciate all your comments.

I'll attempt to appeal this and clarify the situation with the train company during the coming week.
 

miami

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Well no, because they aren't being charged of a crime.
That could be tested if the OP took the TOC to small claims court, but seeing as the PF will be refunded it is difficult to see what the claim would be for.

If he doesn't pay the demand for a few he doesn't owe, what will happen? Criminal charges?

Many people will just roll over and pay, just like businesses roll over paying protection money. Doesn't make it right. For every 100 people that get fined, the TOC just repays 10 who appeal. Nice little money maker.

I agree that the best move is for the op to pay and plead to the TOC to get their money back.

Looks like the OP has a delay repay claim too (assuming the TOC does delay repay)

It could be worth raising this with the local MP too.
 

duncanp

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I don't agree that the best course of action is for the OP the pay.

It is absolutely ridiculous that Abellio Greater Anglia can sell, on their own website. a ticket which renders a user liable to a penalty fare if he takes the suggested route.

If I were to get such a letter, I would write back telling them what they could do with their penalty fare and see you in court.

I joined this group in 2012 after being issued a penalty fare for using a combination of tickets to make a journey with the RPI said was not valid. I was threatened with prosecution until I wrote a letter to the managing director of the TOC at the time telling them what they could do with their threats and that the RPI would have to perjure himself in court to get a conviction against me.
 

miami

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For unpaid Penalty Fares? No, that would be a civil matter.

I believe Penalty fares can be withdrawn at any point and a bye law prosecution given? Or is that just fare evasion prosecutions?

As op abandoned his journey in light of the 30 minute delay perhaps a refund on the ticket rather than delay repay would be more appropriate?

I'd like to agree with duncanp, but sometimes the easiest course of action is to pay the mafia off.
 

najaB

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I believe Penalty fares can be withdrawn at any point and a bye law prosecution given? Or is that just fare evasion prosecutions?
They can be, yes. But that's not the question you asked.
--- old post above --- --- new post below ---
I don't agree that the best course of action is for the OP the pay.

If I were to get such a letter, I would write back telling them what they could do with their penalty fare and see you in court.
While you personally would do that, the OP asked for advice on the best course of action. To most people, 'best' in this type of situation means the least stressful, most expedient and lowest cost course of action. Which is to pay and then appeal.

Total cost = £20.62 (a first class stamp is still 62p?), time taken = 20 minutes, stress = low.

Your suggested course of action may well result in an outlay of hundreds (thousands?) of pounds to get a specialist solicitor, take months and involve appearing in court.
 
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bb21

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To give some context, the reason the journey Chelmsford to Hatfield Peverel via Witham may be permitted is down to the "through trains to and from a common routeing point rule". Page F7 in the Routeing Guide says:

Now Witham is a common routeing point of both Chelmsford and Hatfield Peverel, so the route would appear to be permitted. The text I quoted makes no mention of doubling back being prohibited when applying this rule; indeed it even includes an example of doubling back through an intermediate station short of the routeing point, where the train only stops in one direction, and explicitly says that is OK.

What makes this a greyer area, is that you're doubling back through your destination on the way to Witham, which is probably the main reason why RPIs don't like people doing this - it just doesn't "feel" right to them, but it's a very grey area IMHO.

The whole thing is a mess as Section F very vocally contradicts Section A.
 

sheff1

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It's not an easement. It's down to the fact that Hatfield Peverel is not a timing point on passing trains so the system cannot pick it up. Not easily fixable.

Should be very easily fixed with a well specced IT system and a competent programmer ......
 

bb21

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Should be very easily fixed with a well specced IT system and a competent programmer ......

Will involve infrastructure changes. Not as easy as imagined.
 

sheff1

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I know this is off topic, but why would changes to a software system for determining routeing permissions require infrastructure changes ?
 

bb21

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There is no point adding a timing point if there is no TRUST reporting facility at that point. (Maybe "will" is not the most appropriate word.)

There are much easier ways to fix this issue without resorting to spending thousands on IT changes, but I am not going to give TOC spies ideas. ;)
 
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