Innocent fare-dodgers will be able to appeal to new independent body
Passengers fined for fare-dodging will be able to make an appeal to an independent body, rail minister Paul Maynard has announced.
The DfT promised the new body would be independent of train operating companies and their financial owners.
Maynard said: “Penalty fares are imposed to deter those seeking a free ride but mistakes do happen and where a passenger feels they have been unfairly treated, they need to be confident that there is a robust and independent process in place to deal with their appeal.”
The new body is one of a set of measures, due to go through Parliament next year, introduced in response to ‘Ticket to ride’ – a report from Transport Focus calling for more measures to encourage public confidence in the penalty fare system.
Anthony Smith, CEO at Transport Focus, praised the government’s decision, arguing that while it is right that TOCs should stop fare dodgers, some might have made an innocent mistake and should be “treated with understanding”.
“Greater fairness, accountability and an independent right of appeal will be welcomed by passengers who make an honest mistake,” he added.
Other reforms introduced will include simpler rules on deadlines for payments and appeals, and a compulsory annual audit of penalty fares data.
The DfT also said it would work with the rail industry to make sure passengers and staff understand how the penalty fares regime works and avoid passengers being inappropriately threatened with criminal sanctions.
According to Association of Train Operating Companies estimates made in 2013, fare-dodging costs around £240m a year.
Exclusive RTM investigations this year have also shown that fare-dodging has cost Manchester’s Metrolink £8m in just three years, and that the DLR has taken advantage of requirements in its franchise partnership to tackle fare evaders.
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