Fares, rail policy and DfT news

06.04.18

‘Honest’ fare-dodgers allowed to appeal penalty fares under new rule

Penalty fare rules for rail passengers have been altered to offer better protection to those who make honest mistakes, rail minister Jo Johnson has announced.

With that, the Rail Delivery Group (RDG) has published new best practice guidance on the new penalty fare regime.

Fare dodgers will continue to receive tough penalties, but those with a genuine reason for not having a valid ticket will now be able to challenge a penalty with an independent committee. Once an appeal is received, the clock will stop on the 21-day deadline for the payment of a penalty fare, until the outcome is resolved.

The process will also give greater consideration to circumstances of how and why the penalty was issued to ensure people are not unfairly penalised.

Johnson said: “Rail users should make every effort to get the right ticket for their journey, but if you make an honest mistake, you should feel confident that the appeals system will recognise this and treat you fairly.”

Jacqueline Starr, managing director of customer experience at the RDG, who wrote about smart ticketing in the latest edition of RTM, said: “Customers sometimes make genuine mistakes and the changes to the penalty fares system, which is meant to deter fare dodgers, will help those who feel they have been mistreated and ensure there is enough time to deal with their appeal.

“Fare dodgers deprive the railway of about £200m every year, money which would otherwise be invested to improving Britain’s railway for customers, communities and the economy.”

A penalty fare can be issued where an individual travels without a valid ticket, is unable to produce a railcard on a discounted ticket, stays on the train beyond the destination they have paid for, or travels in the wrong class. Passengers receive a charge of either £20 or twice the full single fare from the station where they got on the train to the next station at which the train stops.

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