Travelling without a valid ticket

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Reading29

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I travelled from Birmingham to Reading last year and was booked on the 5.33, my meeting finished early and I got on the 4.33pm train, at 5.16 the ticket inspector told me that the ticket i had was for the train behind and not this one (which had lots of room on it) and was therefore invalid.
I refused to pay another £43.50 as I cant believe trains are this rigid. If i turn up to the Eurotunnel early, I can get an earlier train and the same for ferries etc.
I have since recieved a summons to court where I am led to believe i can get a criminal record for this.

Does anyone have any sugestions as to what I could or should do?
Can i pay without receiving a record or is it worth arguing this in court?
 
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Oscar

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If you have a fare called an Advance you are only allowed to travel on the train you booked on and you have to buy a completely new ticket if you catch a different one. If you have an Off-Peak or Anytime fare these are more flexible. I presume you had an Advance.
 

DaveNewcastle

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I wouldn't advise arguing the matter in front of the Magistrates unless you are prepared to loose. If you are being accused of a Criminal Offence (and you haven't told us what Offence you are being accused of), then to loose would result in a hefty fine, the Prosecution's costs and a Criminal Record.

But to return to the matter in hand, its a little unclear if the Summons has been issued following a Witness Statement you have made or whether it is (simply) persuing an unpaid civil debt (which would arise if you were issued with an invoice in the form of an Unpaid Fare Notice and which remains unpaid).

With these uncertainties, neither I nor anyone else can give appropriate advice. Nevertheless, if this is your first recorded incident then it is probable that whichever Railway Company is persuing you will accept some sort of settlement which covers their costs.

I understand that your position is based on a 'common sense' interpretation of the validity of your ticket. If you can tell us what ticket type it was, we may be able to confirm or deny whether it would have been valid for the journey you took, but as it appears that some time has passed and correspondence and/or Witness Statements taken, then this probably isn't the time to go back to the details of ticket validity - it should be enough to know that there are special types of low cost fares which are indeed tied to specific trains and only to those trains; the principle of these popular "Advance" low-cost tickets is not a matter that the Magistrates would be able to consider.
 

island

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If you can be more specific about the Summons (is it to Magistrates Court or County Court, does it mention such laws at the Regulation of Railways Act 1889 or the Railway Byelaws), we might be able to give you more information. The ticket type held would also help, but I am 95% sure it was an Advance, which in the bottom right corner bears the text "Validity: BOOKDTRAINONLY".

One thing is sure, however: you are on a hiding to nothing if you attempt to argue the "I can't believe trains are this rigid" point. They are. Advance tickets are offered at the low price they are offered at because the purchasers agree to a severe restriction of the number of trains they may travel on. You would have had the option, had you visited the ticket office at Birmingham N St before joining the train, to pay a supplement which would have made your ticket valid on other trains.
 

tony_mac

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If i turn up to the Eurotunnel early, I can get an earlier train and the same for ferries etc.

But you can't always, they need to give you permission before you travel.
If you had asked for permission first, then it would probably have been refused, but at least you wouldn't be in this position.

There are a number of threads from people on here who have had offers to settle out of court accepted, they are probably worth a read.
 

All Line Rover

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There is no walk-up Birmingham to Reading ticket type that it valid on the 17:33 from Reading to Birmingham but not the 16:33. So the OP definitely had an Advance.

£43.50 was last year's SOS fare, so the OP was asked to pay the correct fare. There is no Off-Peak Single on this flow, so it's not as if the Train Manager was being "harsh" by changing an Anytime single.
 

RJ

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I travelled from Birmingham to Reading last year and was booked on the 5.33, my meeting finished early and I got on the 4.33pm train, at 5.16 the ticket inspector told me that the ticket i had was for the train behind and not this one (which had lots of room on it) and was therefore invalid.
I refused to pay another £43.50 as I cant believe trains are this rigid. If i turn up to the Eurotunnel early, I can get an earlier train and the same for ferries etc.
I have since recieved a summons to court where I am led to believe i can get a criminal record for this.

Does anyone have any sugestions as to what I could or should do?
Can i pay without receiving a record or is it worth arguing this in court?

Hi,

Was your ticket not endorsed with Validity: Booked train only in the bottom right hand corner?

I would advise against going to court in the hope of winning the case, without having a full understanding of the situation.
 

All Line Rover

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the ticket inspector told me that the ticket i had was for the train behind and not this one (which had lots of room on it) and was therefore invalid. I refused to pay another £43.50 as I cant believe trains are this rigid.

In general, there are three ticket categories:
  • "Anytime" tickets - these can be purchased on the day, are valid on any train, and on premium routes (such as Birmingham to Reading) are very expensive
  • "Off-Peak" tickets - these can be purchased on the day, are not valid on trains during certain times (in the case of Birmingham to Reading, before 09:30am), and are reasonably priced
  • "Advance" tickets - these must be booked in advance, are valid on the booked train only, and can be very cheap

Because "Advance" tickets can be very cheap, they have very limited flexibility. Unless you travel on your booked train they are, in most circumstances, worthless. If you desire flexibility, you need to purchase either an "Off-Peak" or "Anytime" ticket.
 
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