Gateline barriers on the Northern network

Northern to crack down on ticket 'chancers'

Ticket 'chancers' will have to get up pretty early to pull the wool over Northern's eyes after the introduction of an innovative technology, that will improve the automated ticket checks at barriers through alerting staff to offenders attempting to use incorrect tickets to progress with their journeys.

This new tech has been developed through a partnership with The Ticket Keeper and will accurately check the validity of tickets in rapid time, allowing staff to confirm correct usage of tickets and take the necessary actions to ensure correct procedure is conducted.

It is estimated that over 300,000 people are using these automated barrier systems across Northern’s network every day, which creates a massive logistical nuisance to validate the credentials of every ticket that passes through.

A trial of this system was conducted at Manchester Victoria earlier this month, seeing the tech used throughout a revenue protection exercise, where it successfully helped to detect 180 ‘chancers’ in one day, with the trial culminating at almost 900 successful detections.

Those attempting to travel using a ticket they were not eligible to use, included:

  • 52 people benefitting from a railcard discount they were not able to present for inspection
  • 24 adults travelling on a children’s ticket

The success of this trail afforded the operator the ability to issue 79 penalty fares that totalled over £1,500 and launched 101 investigations into various ticket irregularities.

As the UK rail sector recuperates lost revenue from the decline in passenger usage during the pandemic, with numbers recently achieving heights of 99% of pre pandemic levels since restrictions ended, cracking down on passengers avoiding paying fares will greatly enhance train operator’s ability to stabilise economic growth.

Mark Powles, customer and commercial director at Northern, said:

“This technology will be invaluable for our gate line and revenue protection colleagues whose job it is to ensure ticket checks are carried out quickly and efficiently.

“Unfortunately, we know that a small minority of customers try to exploit the automated nature of barrier checks to travel on tickets they know they’re not eligible to use.

“The kit is very easy to install and can be deployed to known hotspots across the whole network to help tackle this fraudulent activity.”

On Sunday, 11 December Northern’s new timetable comes into effect and all customers, especially those who have made regular journeys on the same train times, are advised to check online journey planners before they travel to ensure their service operates at the same time and calls at the same stations.

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