Validity of ticket question ( London - Brookmans Park with itinerary via Hatfield ) FCC prosecution

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bemused

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I'm really hoping there are some experts on here who can explain things for me. My daughter travelled from Brookman's Park to King's Cross having bought a return ticket and adding in the travelcard option from the machine at Brookman's Park. On her return journey later that day she got a text from her boyfriend saying he would pick her up at Hatfield where she'd normally change for Brookman's Park.

A revenue inspector checked her ticket at Hatfield and said she had to pay a penalty fare and the cost of a ticket from Brookman's Park. She asked why, some discussion ensued and she is now being prosecuted. She still has the receipt although her ticket was taken. We can't work out why it wasn't valid for the return journey and having checked conditions of carriage they confirm it is possible to end a journey early unless you've bought an advance ticket. I have checked the whole thing through on the National Rail website and her ticket was correct as far as we can work out.

We wrote to FCC on receipt of their notice of intent to prosecute but got no explanation, only a summons. Can anyone with more knowledge than I please shed some light on why this ticket was not valid for the return journey an why she is being prosecuted?
 
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calc7

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She wasn't ending the journey early, she was over-riding. Brookmans park is before Hatfield on the line out of Kings Cross, so she held no valid ticket from Brookmans Park to Hatfield. I can't find an easement or itinerary that suggests doubling back from Hatfield to London is permissible, either.
 

bemused

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I have just done a check and you are right that the route she took is not showing at present. It did show as the route then though and we have screenshots showing the route as Brookman's Park to Hatfield and Hatfield to King's Cross. It also shows the fare as exactly what she paid. I'm doubly confused now.
 

hairyhandedfool

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If you have a screen shot, did you print it and send it as evidence that your daughter believed it was valid by that route? (strictly speaking you'd need one for the exact train used)

Have you checked that the price for that particular train was the price of the ticket held? (sometimes sites have been know to have a "Journeys from £xx.xx" notice rather than a specific fare for each train). On NRES, it does show up a 10:38 from Brookmans Park via Hatfield next Friday (and presumably every hour every weekday), but, crucially, there is no fare next to it, whereas other journeys not going that way have a fare next to them. The same applies for a return journey on the same day coming back from Kings Cross at 1436 via Hatfield (and presumably every hour every weekday) without a fare while other journeys around it, that don't go that way, do.
 

philjo

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What time was the train used? There are a few evening peak services that call at Hatfield as the first stop after Finsbury Park which might come up on the journey planners as the quickest journey option to Brookmans park by changing at Hatfield.
The services that call at Brookmans park would be all stations services (or most of them) from Moorgate.
 

bemused

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It will have been early evening peak time. We did write back to FCC but didn't include the screenshot as we hadn't done it then. As she'd not boarded a train without a valid ticket we didn't think it would reach the stage of a summons. Does anyone have the exact wording of the section 18 offence please? I gather it's strict liability so honest mistake won't cut it as a defence. If it is 'boarding' a train without a valid ticket then she didn't do that as her ticket was valid when she got on. She should just have got off to change at an earlier station We can show that her decision to leave at Hatfield was made after she'd started the journey.
 

MikeWh

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It will have been early evening peak time. We did write back to FCC but didn't include the screenshot as we hadn't done it then. As she'd not boarded a train without a valid ticket we didn't think it would reach the stage of a summons. Does anyone have the exact wording of the section 18 offence please? I gather it's strict liability so honest mistake won't cut it as a defence. If it is 'boarding' a train without a valid ticket then she didn't do that as her ticket was valid when she got on. She should just have got off to change at an earlier station We can show that her decision to leave at Hatfield was made after she'd started the journey.

If you've got a screenshot it would be useful to post it on here. I've tried to replicate the journey, but while sites will show the route they won't sell tickets for the actual trains via Hatfield.

The offence is boarding a train without a valid ticket for the whole journey. It doesn't matter that it was valid when she got on, it wasn't valid for the whole journey when she got off.
 

hairyhandedfool

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Your daughter has fallen foul of National Rail Conditions of Carriage Condition 4 and 18, if she refused to pay the Penalty fare the TOC would look at prosecution as an option.

4. Penalty Fares
Penalty Fares are charged by Train Companies at some stations and in some trains.
Warning notices are clearly displayed where Penalty Fares apply.
You may be liable to pay a Penalty Fare if:
(a) you travel in a train without a ticket or Permit to Travel; or
(b) you travel in a class of accommodation for which the ticket is not valid; or
(c) you travel in a train and the circumstances set out in Conditions
10, 11, 12, 18, 19, 22, 30, 35 and 39 apply;
or
(d) you are present in a Compulsory Ticket Area without a ticket or Permit to Travel.
You will not have to pay the full single fare or full return fare under Condition 2 if a Penalty
Fare is charged, but you will need a valid ticket from the next station at which the train
stops. A Train Company which operates a Penalty Fares scheme will supply you with the
rules about Penalty Fares and a summary of their scheme if you ask.

18. If you travel further than a ticket allows
If you travel beyond the destination shown on the ticket, you will be treated as having
joined the train without a ticket for that additional part of your journey. Condition 2 or 4 will
apply for that additional part of your journey.
 

bemused

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I'll have to find and try to post up the screenshot she emailed me. May take me a while.
The ridiculous part of this is that she phoned her partner when on the train because she'd twisted her ankle as the train set off. He then texted and suggested she change at an earlier station and he'd pick her up from Brookman's Park. She said she'd better not because she thought it may not be OK to take a different route back from the one she took in. That's why he picked her up at Hatfield. She's ending up in court for making a positive decision to do what she thought was the right and lawful journey. What's more, if she hadn't got hurt, simply changed at Hatfield and gone on to Brookman's Park nobody would ever have questioned her ticket - however 'wrong' it turned out to be.

Completely frustrating and why I travel by car:)
--- old post above --- --- new post below ---
if she refused to pay the Penalty fare the TOC would look at prosecution as an option
Not just an option - she has been summonsed.
--- old post above --- --- new post below ---
I've tried to replicate the journey, but while sites will show the route they won't sell tickets for the actual trains via Hatfield.
I've now gone further in, checked everything and looks like she's Britains worst criminal. Completely separate from the journey details there is in fairly small print the information that you will need to buy more than one ticket for this route. She bought her ticket for London all stations and took a train & route listed on the timetable - a hardened criminal indeed but technically guilty.

I've just checked the form filled in by the inspector. He has filled in that she does have the means to pay but wants to speak to a supervisor. It was at this point he became extremely unpleasant. She honestly thought she'd done nothing wrong and simply wanted it explained.
 

island

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It appears that having made a mistake regarding ticket validity, your daughter was offered the normal option for someone making a mistake on FCC, which is to pay a penalty fare, but she chose not to do this. She could have paid just the single ticket fare on the train and appealed, paying the remainder if unsuccessful. Now we're looking at a summons which will be a bigger issue.

You can view the byelaws at http://assets.dft.gov.uk/publications/railway-byelaws/railway-byelaws.pdf
 

bemused

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your daughter was offered the normal option for someone making a mistake on FCC, which is to pay a penalty fare, but she chose not to do this
She didn't refuse to do so. She asked why and then asked to speak to a supervisor because she didn't understand what was going on. That much is recorded.
 

Ferret

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She didn't refuse to do so. She asked why and then asked to speak to a supervisor because she didn't understand what was going on. That much is recorded.

Well, if she's not refused to pay the penalty fare, how have we reached the stage where it's gone to a prosecution?
 

bemused

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I don't know and it's happened quickly - maybe they bulk process them and she's just hit the timing wrong. The inspector told her if she wanted to speak to someone higher it would have to be through head office. She said OK, gave her details and next thing she knew she was cautioned and told to sign the form he'd filled out. They wrote to her, she replied saying she'd offered to pay and the next thing we got was a summons.

The machine at Brookman's Park automatically charges the right fare for the time of day, off peak, super off peak etc., so she had no reason to suppose she hadn't bought the correct ticket for the next train along on the timetable. If she'd been just a bit earlier or later it wouldn't have been this route so there wouldn't have been a problem. You live and learn.
 

Ferret

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I don't know and it's happened quickly - maybe they bulk process them and she's just hit the timing wrong. The inspector told her if she wanted to speak to someone higher it would have to be through head office. She said OK, gave her details and next thing she knew she was cautioned and told to sign the form he'd filled out. They wrote to her, she replied saying she'd offered to pay and the next thing we got was a summons.

Well, it sounds to me as though she left the Inspector no option really - given opportunity to pay the penalty fare due, didn't - all that's left open to him then is to get the Caution book out.

I presume you've read all of the many threads on here regarding FCC and out of Court settlements? I suspect it still isn't too late to go down a similar route if that's how you see fit to proceed? Personally I don't hold out much hope of contesting it in Court - ticket held was to Brookmans Park and she alighted further up the line at Hatfield - those are the naked facts that prove the byelaw offence as far as I can see.
 

bemused

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This much we realise now. Unfortunately she has already sent the papers back to the court with a not guilty box ticked as we firmly believed until today (as I've found this forum) she had bought a valid ticket. I think this automatically now leads to the worst possible result as the courts don't appreciate people wasting their time. Luckily we can afford any fine but it is frustrating when she never intended to do wrong.
 

jkdd77

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I don't know and it's happened quickly - maybe they bulk process them and she's just hit the timing wrong. The inspector told her if she wanted to speak to someone higher it would have to be through head office. She said OK, gave her details and next thing she knew she was cautioned and told to sign the form he'd filled out. They wrote to her, she replied saying she'd offered to pay and the next thing we got was a summons.

The machine at Brookman's Park automatically charges the right fare for the time of day, off peak, super off peak etc., so she had no reason to suppose she hadn't bought the correct ticket for the next train along on the timetable. If she'd been just a bit earlier or later it wouldn't have been this route so there wouldn't have been a problem. You live and learn.

This is not my area of expertise, but I assume that your daughter has indeed been charged with violating railway bye-law 18, and not with the more serious offence under section 5 of the Regulation of Railways Act 1889?

Please could you confirm the precise charge as set out on the summons? This may affect the advice given by those with more knowledge of these matters than me.

Regardless, I strongly suspect that the best option at this point is likely to be to try to negotiate an 'out of court settlement', which, if accepted by FCC, would probably involve your daughter paying in the region of £150-200 in order for the charge to be dropped.
 

Ferret

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This much we realise now. Unfortunately she has already sent the papers back to the court with a not guilty box ticked as we firmly believed until today (as I've found this forum) she had bought a valid ticket. I think this automatically now leads to the worst possible result as the courts don't appreciate people wasting their time. Luckily we can afford any fine but it is frustrating when she never intended to do wrong.

Yes, alas it's not the intent that matters where railway byelaws are concerned, as I'm sure you'll be well aware by now. It is still possible to change that plea to guilty - I know of many cases that have gone this way. That may reduce the fine a little. Aside from that, I'm not sure what options are left open to you. At least the byelaw offence is not a recordable one so hopefully there won't be any additional adverse consequences.

 

bemused

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Please could you confirm the precise charge as set out on the summons? This may affect the advice given by those with more knowledge of these matters than me.
all it says is:-

That you on XX 2012 of HATFIELD; having entered a train for the purpose of travelling did not have a ticket entitling travel contrary to byelaw 18(1) of the Railway Byelaws made under Section 219 etc. etc.

Regardless, I strongly suspect that the best option at this point is likely to be to try to negotiate an 'out of court settlement', which, if accepted by FCC, would probably involve your daughter paying in the region of £150-200 in order for the charge to be dropped.
This I would happily do but have been given no chance to do so and don't know how to go about it.
 

bemused

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Sounds like another case of FCC using a sledgehammer to crack a nut?!
That's as may be but they can do so. Maybe they've had a spate of fare dodgers and are sick of it so automatically prosecute the smallest mistake. If the inspector had only been prepared to explain the mistake we wouldn't be where we are. I guess they just get sick of excuses and past believing there are honest people.

We couldn't understand the bit on his form where he filled in she had travelled from Brookman's Park to Hatfield without a valid ticket. We honestly thought he'd made a mistake as to which train she'd come into Hatfield on and thought she'd tried to use the ticket to return to Hatfield having already completed her journey back to Brookman's Park.
 

island

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This I would happily do but have been given no chance to do so and don't know how to go about it.

Contact the person who sent you the letter offering the sum of (say) £150 in respect of FCC's administrative costs and the fare avoided in return for the prosecution being dropped.

For what consolation it is in the event this leads to a conviction, the offence in question is not recordable and does not normally come up on a CRB check.
 

Ferret

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Bemused - I do find it quite difficult to believe that the RPI won't have said to her that she was over-distance - ie travelling beyond Brookmans Park. What he won't then do is keep explaining. From my point of view, if I'm dealing with somebody who hasn't a valid ticket who wants chapter and verse explaining, I'll maybe do so a couple of times in plain English. Anyone who then decides 'I want to speak to a supervisor' (there isn't anyone higher than me on the train) and then refuses to co-operate is probably being difficult for the sake of it, and so they'll find they're far more liable to have the book thrown in their direction. Now, this isn't to say that the young lady concerned was being deliberately awkward, but you can bet the RPI concerned has had plenty of similar encounters with people who are being awkward, and then out comes the rulebook. It sounds like she was given the gen regarding speaking to Head Office, so that would have been the time to just offer the 20 pounds Penalty Fare and leave it there I'm afraid.

I strongly suspect you are right about FCC having a bit of a crackdown. A quick search of these pages suggests that they are currently having a purge on ticketless travel. This will include the aforementioned rulebook being thrown in the direction of those whom they catch.

Going forward, having given this some thought, I don't think there's anything to lose by writing to FCC's prosecution department even at this late stage and offering to settle out of Court. Sure, there'd be a significant admin charge, but they can only say no, and if they do, you've lost only the cost of a postage stamp.
 

bemused

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Bemused - I do find it quite difficult to believe that the RPI won't have said to her that she was over-distance
I suspect it was a case of her asking the 'wrong' question - something which arises from ignorance of the system. She kept asking 'why can't I end my journey here?' and he would only answer 'because I'm not letting you'. In her mind she couldn't be 'over distance' because she thought she had a ticket which actually was valid for more than the distance travelled.

I know it must seem deliberately awkward to those who know the network inside out and backwards but it's very confusing to those of us who don't.
 

Ferret

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I suspect it was a case of her asking the 'wrong' question - something which arises from ignorance of the system. She kept asking 'why can't I end my journey here?' and he would only answer 'because I'm not letting you'. In her mind she couldn't be 'over distance' because she thought she had a ticket which actually was valid for more than the distance travelled.

I know it must seem deliberately awkward to those who know the network inside out and backwards but it's very confusing to those of us who don't.

I see. Well, there's little more that can be added really - it's hard for me to be objective on what is and isn't confusing regarding travelling beyond the destination printed on the ticket. Good luck resolving the matter - I hope you can keep it out of Court at least.

 

185

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Ah ha. Here's a screencap.

Does show the price differential, about 40% more to go via Hatfield.
 

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bemused

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Can you give me the link so I can go into that please so I can see how much it would be with a railcard? She has one and certainly paid more than the cheaper fare for the more direct route.
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I hope you can keep it out of Court at least.
There has been nothing from FCC offering such an option, just a summons direct from the court. Once it's in the court system we have to reply to everything through there as far as I can see
 

calc7

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Can you give me the link so I can go into that please so I can see how much it would be with a railcard? She has one and certainly paid more than the cheaper fare for the more direct route.

Did she have two tickets? That would be the result of buying the "more expensive" fare. There's no such thing as a single ticket for Brookmans Park to London Terminals via Hatfield (Herts) - the more expensive itinerary above would require the purchase of Brookmans Park - Hatfield (Herts) plus Hatfield (Herts) - London Terminals tickets.
 

GadgetMan

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There has been nothing from FCC offering such an option, just a summons direct from the court. Once it's in the court system we have to reply to everything through there as far as I can see

The TOC won't necessarily offer an out of court settlement, however if you contact them offering to cover any admin costs and the fare due then they usually will accept it as long as it's a first offence.

If you do decide to take such a route, have your letter proof read by a more experienced person on here through PM before sending it to the TOC.
 

bemused

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I don't know how many tickets she had. I do know she had once before done the same journey but got out at Hatfield to buy her ticket from the ticket office there because the machine at Brookman's Park had refused to take her card. She isn't from that area, wasn't used to travelling by train and was petrified of getting it wrong or being accused of fare dodging. She told them where she'd come from and bought a ticket for the whole return journey. Part of her confusion was that there was nothing obviously different between one she'd bought from a human member of staff then and the whatever she got from the machine on this occasion.
--- old post above --- --- new post below ---
The TOC won't necessarily offer an out of court settlement, however if you contact them offering to cover any admin costs and the fare due then they usually will accept it as long as it's a first offence

Well it's certainly a first offence - and with no intention to offend.
 
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