What is the Penalty for Getting on a train without a reservation?

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Jan Mayen

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Reading other threads about some trains being compulsory reservation, I was wondering if there is a penalty for using one without a reservation?
And if any prosecutions are actually brought before the courts?
 
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JonathanH

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It is an odd one isn't it, because being forced to purchase a new ticket means that new ticket doesn't have a reservation either. Seems a bit tough to prosecute.

There are 'fines' for removing a reservation and occupying a seat reserved to someone else that get printed on the reservation labels.

I did once travel on a TPE 350 out of Edinburgh many years ago where passengers with advance tickets were told that their ticket wouldn't be valid if they weren't sat is the specific seat booked but passengers with walk up tickets were allowed to sit where they like.
 

Watershed

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The usual legal framework for dealing with ticketless travel (NRCoT, Penalty Fares, Byelaw 18, RoRA) doesn't cover the situation of travelling with a ticket but without a reservation. So there isn't a criminal penalty under any of those for failing to have a reservation.

The strictest possible reading of part (vi) of the Byelaws definition of "ticket" could be used to argue that you'd be in breach of Byelaw 13(1)(i) or 19 by boarding a reservation compulsory service without a reservation. But I doubt that any train company would think of trying to argue that.

In practice, the penalty is the risk of being denied boarding and/or being told to leave the train at the next station.
 

Tazi Hupefi

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The usual legal framework for dealing with ticketless travel (NRCoT, Penalty Fares, Byelaw 18, RoRA) doesn't cover the situation of travelling with a ticket but without a reservation. So there isn't a criminal penalty under any of those for failing to have a reservation.

The strictest possible reading of part (vi) of the Byelaws definition of "ticket" could be used to argue that you'd be in breach of Byelaw 13(1)(i) or 19 by boarding a reservation compulsory service without a reservation. But I doubt that any train company would think of trying to argue that.

In practice, the penalty is the risk of being denied boarding and/or being told to leave the train at the next station.
Possibly Byelaw 19.

But to convict, it requires it to be published (with notices) that a reservation is required for all or part of the train AND to then fail to leave the train / part of the train.

Clearly not designed for this scenario.

Byelaw 10(2) is another one which could be very liberally interpreted, but again clearly not designed for this scenario, even less so than Byelaw 19. Although you could make a reasonable go at it if a TOC wanted to give it a try.

Other one is Byelaw 12(1) if they give notice that because of safety reasons a mandatory reservation is required. This is the most likely to succeed in my view, (if a TOC publishes such a notice, and it has to specify the purpose is for safety), but even then like the others above, it's purely hypothetical and isn't going to be prosecuted, except unless a passenger reacts in a particularly offensive manner. However, this Byelaw (or the TfL equivalent) is being (or was being) heavily used for face mask enforcement in London.

In summary: I don't think the rail industry has any intention to criminalise mandatory reservations. Nor would you remotely be at risk of prosecution, unless you'd deliberately set out to be as obstructive or difficult about the situation.
 

Mcr Warrior

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Would the effective 'penalty' on boarding a train with compulsory reservations (without holding a valid reservation) be having to stand for all or part of a potentially lengthy journey, if all the reservations were taken and in use?
 

JonathanH

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Would the effective 'penalty' on boarding a train with compulsory reservations (without holding a valid reservation) be having to stand for all or part of a potentially lengthy journey, if all the reservations were taken and in use?
No, because the whole purpose of the compulsory reservations appears to be to eliminate capacity being used in excess of the number of seats. As others have noted, it is more about being able to access the train itself than board without a seat.
 

Snow1964

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As I see it, and probably the reason why it is never prosecuted is that it makes the journey and seat guaranteed. It becomes part of the contract to travel.

You can’t sell a compulsory reservation, and then not expect to 100% refund it if can’t deliver what you have sold, under consumer law.

So failing to include the reserved seat (or at least a reserved alternative seat on same train), even if change stock or need to cancel the train would put train company in a refund predicament.

Thinking about it, if say someone purchased three £35 tickets with reservations and a train Operator failed to deliver (say one seat was missing), and reservations were part of the purchase, then being over £100 the customer could request a credit card chargeback for non performance.

Of course if you disconnect the ticket and reservation, then don’t make them both part of the sales contract to travel.
 
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superalbs

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LNER reckon they can charge you for a new ticket, or get the BTP involved for possibly issuing a fine.
 

JonathanH

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LNER reckon they can charge you for a new ticket, or get the BTP involved for possibly issuing a fine.
That doesn't appear to make sense. The new ticket wouldn't have a reservation either so it would be no more valid that the ticket already held.
 

Tazi Hupefi

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LNER reckon they can charge you for a new ticket, or get the BTP involved for possibly issuing a fine.
I can't see how (from a non expert view of the ticket conditions) you can be charged for a new ticket unless you're travelling on a train your ticket is not ordinarily valid on.

The BTP can be called, and there's no fixed penalty notice they can specifically issue for this scenario, so they'd have to report for prosecution under either one the aforementioned Byelaws, or possibly trespass. There's also the offence of obstructing a member of railway staff under s16 Regulation of Railways Act 1840, but you'd have to "obstruct" or "impede" a member of staff for that offence, but refusing to comply with reasonable, lawful instructions could be construed as such. This is all academic anyway, nobody is being prosecuted. Worst that would happen is that you'd be ejected from the train or station by the police as someone not welcome on private property.
 

Snow1964

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That doesn't appear to make sense. The new ticket wouldn't have a reservation either so it would be no more valid that the ticket already held.

Correct if train was 100% compulsory reservation they could only sell a new ticket with a valid reservation, otherwise new ticket would not be valid with conditions required
 

mailbyrail

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And they are trying to ensure travellers return to the rails.
There's already enough risk of falling foul of routing restrictions such that another risk of prosecution for a straightforward journey is looking less attractive.
Every one of my journeys in the year before lockdown on the ECML was only one stop on an otherwise longer journey (eg Peterborough-Grantham, York-Doncaster), all return times were unknown until arriving at the station. It's much easier to take the car.
 

takno

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LNER reckon they can charge you for a new ticket, or get the BTP involved for possibly issuing a fine.
Which is odd because all the information on the trains recommends that, if you've found yourself onboard and don't have a reservation, you go onto the website and book a reservation from the next station.
 

Bletchleyite

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Correct if train was 100% compulsory reservation they could only sell a new ticket with a valid reservation, otherwise new ticket would not be valid with conditions required

Depends on how you ticket things.

If you have an airline style fares system, the ticket and reservation are one and the same thing (i.e. all tickets are Advances, effectively). Therefore a ticket for the 10:00 has no validity on the 10:30, and the passenger would thus be treated as if they had joined the train without a valid ticket.

If you have a system like we have now, where the ticket and reservation are separate entities, there does not appear to be any viable penalty because the ticket is valid. Control would be by refusing boarding at barriered stations, and perhaps asking you to leave at the next station and using reasonable force if you don't (i.e. conventional trespass).
 

takno

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Depends on how you ticket things.

If you have an airline style fares system, the ticket and reservation are one and the same thing (i.e. all tickets are Advances, effectively). Therefore a ticket for the 10:00 has no validity on the 10:30, and the passenger would thus be treated as if they had joined the train without a valid ticket.

If you have a system like we have now, where the ticket and reservation are separate entities, there does not appear to be any viable penalty because the ticket is valid. Control would be by refusing boarding at barriered stations, and perhaps asking you to leave at the next station and using reasonable force if you don't (i.e. conventional trespass).
That seems quite hypothetical. I very much understood the conversation to be about what, concretely, can or will be done right now by train companies operating under the ticketing system we actually have.
 

Bletchleyite

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That seems quite hypothetical. I very much understood the conversation to be about what, concretely, can or will be done right now by train companies operating under the ticketing system we actually have.

I don't think anything could be done now bar asking you to get off at the next station and removing you if you don't (i.e. conventional trespass).
 

island

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Thinking about it, if say someone purchased three £35 tickets with reservations and a train Operator failed to deliver (say one seat was missing), and reservations were part of the purchase, then being over £100 the customer could request a credit card chargeback for non performance.
The individual item, not the transaction, must be over £100 in order for section 75 of the Consumer Credit Act to apply, just for your information.
 

tspaul26

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If I were (hypothetically) instructed to prosecute such a case, I would allege failure to comply with Byelaw 13(1)(ii):

No person shall:

  1. enter or remain on any part of the railway where there is a notice:
    1. ...
    2. indicating that it is reserved or provided for a specified category of person only, except where he belongs to that specified category

For the purposes of this offence, the “railway” includes a train and I would contend that an annotation in the timetable or other notices of the operator that a train is ‘reservation compulsory’ constitutes (in law) sufficient notice that said train is reserved or provided for only those persons who hold reservations (the “specified category”).

LNER reckon they can charge you for a new ticket, or get the BTP involved for possibly issuing a fine.
The former sounds like complete bunk to me, although I am happy to accept that it is an accurate recollection of the correspondence in question.
 

route101

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I thought Avanti and LNER ask you to reserve a seat if you don't hold a reservation.
 

robbeech

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I’m sure there will be stories of guards on a power trip causing problems for passengers (sometimes justifiably so) but for the most part, in practise the idea is to get people to sit in an appropriate seat, stick to the guidelines and get on with their day.
Guards USUALLY aren’t out there to cause issues so they tend to find a seat for passengers or at absolutely worst, help them book one on the next service and make them alight at the next station and wait.
 

island

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I’m sure there will be stories of guards on a power trip causing problems for passengers (sometimes justifiably so) but for the most part, in practise the idea is to get people to sit in an appropriate seat, stick to the guidelines and get on with their day.
Guards USUALLY aren’t out there to cause issues so they tend to find a seat for passengers or at absolutely worst, help them book one on the next service and make them alight at the next station and wait.
Indeed. Mostly they just want to run their trains safely, and ideally on time.
 

jfollows

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I thought Avanti and LNER ask you to reserve a seat if you don't hold a reservation.
Avanti asks you to reserve a seat, yes, but yesterday I was posting on a different thread to the effect that they don't mandate it, and say that they'll try to meet your travelling requirement if they can:

https://www.avantiwestcoast.co.uk/help-and-support/coronavirus-travel-information:

We have reduced the seating capacity on our trains. Therefore, we strongly recommend you book your place on your preferred train by using our website or app. Once a train reaches the social distance seat capacity set, we remove it from our booking platforms.

If you have not booked a place, we’ll do our best to help at the station, but we can’t guarantee you’ll be able to board your preferred train. In this instance, we’ll do our best to get you on the service immediately before or after your preferred train. If you have any questions when boarding, then our station team are on hand to help.
 
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