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Rail ticket fine - appeal, or just be grateful?

edited 30 November -1 at 1:00AM in Motoring
18 replies 3.1K views
Hootie19Hootie19 Forumite
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edited 30 November -1 at 1:00AM in Motoring
My son and some friends travelled from our local railway station into London to go to a gig yesterday. They purchased their tickets from the ticket office, not a machine.

They told the clerk where they wanted to go to, and asked if the ticket would be ok for travelling back today. They knew that the gig wasn't going to finish until the early hours - usually when they do this kind of "warehouse gig", they arrive back home at about 6.30am. The clerk told them that the ticket would be ok for travelling back today.

This morning, they had to hang around Kings Cross (or it might have been St Pancras - possibly irrelevant as to the station) until the trains started running again, and when they did go to the platform, there was no one manning the platforms, and the barriers were open.

When they arrived back at our local station and tried to exit via the barriers, it turned out that their tickets were invalid for travel at that time. The inspector there said that the tickets were only valid for travel up until about 1.20am - this was at about 6am. He said that really, they should be fined £400 each, for not having a valid ticket, but that he would allow them to pay a lesser fine (not quite sure what the difference is) of £20 each.

Given that they asked the clerk when buying their tickets if they would be valid for travelling back home today and were told yes, and given that the barriers were open at the London station (if they had been shut, and they'd tried to use the tickets, they would have been rejected, and the lads could have just bought another, single ticket for about £7), would they have any grounds for appealing this fine, or should they just pay up and shut up, and be grateful to the inspector at the local station for not imposing the £400 fine?
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Replies

  • shaun_from_Africashaun_from_Africa Forumite
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    I would certainly write a letter to appeal the penalty giving the reason that your son enquired about the return time before paying for the ticket
    .
    The maximum penalty that can be charged is £20 or twice the full single fare (whichever is the greatest), so unless the single fare from London to your home town is £100, it sounds like the inspector was talking rubbish.
  • Voyager2002Voyager2002 Forumite
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    I would certainly write a letter to appeal the penalty giving the reason that your son enquired about the return time before paying for the ticket
    .
    The maximum penalty that can be charged is £20 or twice the full single fare (whichever is the greatest), so unless the single fare from London to your home town is £100, it sounds like the inspector was talking rubbish.

    I think the problem is that they did not enquire about the return time, only the return date. It sounds as if they bought tickets valid for return the next day, but only for off-peak travel. Even so, the penalty is unduly harsh.
  • LivingthedreamLivingthedream Forumite
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    You can try appealing the Penalty Fare £20 stating the reasons that you told us, as in theory you have nothing to lose in trying because if your appeal is rejected then it's the same £20* that needs to be paid.

    You could try posting on CAG Pubic transport forum as they have more specialised posters who can help better with this type of fine query or in fact any railway fine query.

    *as long as it's paid within the allotted time frame dictated in the Rejection letter.
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  • jkdd77jkdd77 Forumite
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    OP- What type of ticket did you have, what was the expiry date, and were you given a Penalty Fare, an Unpaid Fares Notice, or charged a full Anytime Single?

    If it was the return portion of an Off-Peak Return, still in date, and the only reason the ticket was invalid was time restrictions, then you should have been charged an excess fare, and (if actually issued a PF) will almost certainly have grounds to get the PF quashed.

    If it was the return portion of an Off-Peak Day Return dated the previous day, an advance being used on the wrong train, or any other ticket being used after its expiry date, then it is very likely that any PF was validly issued and is unlikely to be quashed on appeal.
  • yorkie2yorkie2 Forumite
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    Hootie19 wrote: »
    They knew that the gig wasn't going to finish until the early hours - usually when they do this kind of "warehouse gig", they arrive back home at about 6.30am. The clerk told them that the ticket would be ok for travelling back today.
    Without knowing the origin, ticket type, and time of train caught, I can't comment.
    Hootie19 wrote: »

    When they arrived back at our local station and tried to exit via the barriers, it turned out that their tickets were invalid for travel at that time. The inspector there said that the tickets were only valid for travel up until about 1.20am
    The ticketing day normally lasts until 02:00 but the last train may be before this, and also there may be easements allowing a later time than this. But I do not have sufficient information to know in this case.
    Hootie19 wrote: »
    - this was at about 6am. He said that really, they should be fined £400 each, for not having a valid ticket,
    Not for him to decide. Only a court could issue such a fine! He may be in a position to report them for prosecution, if he has the relevant training. It would then be for a court to decide if they are guilty and if so, the fine may or may not be £400 (and a criminal record).
    Hootie19 wrote: »
    but that he would allow them to pay a lesser fine (not quite sure what the difference is) of £20 each.
    He cannot issue a fine. That's a Penalty Fare, which is issued to people who are not being treated as fare evaders.
    Hootie19 wrote: »
    Given that they asked the clerk when buying their tickets if they would be valid for travelling back home today and were told yes,
    It is difficult to comment without knowing the exact conversation. Is the ticket clerk able to confirm what he said previously? If so, depending on what was said, that may be used in an appeal. If not, it could be his word against theirs.
    Hootie19 wrote: »
    and given that the barriers were open at the London station (if they had been shut, and they'd tried to use the tickets, they would have been rejected, and the lads could have just bought another, single ticket for about £7),
    Were there any staff available? The barriers are a non-issue. If the station was unstaffed, then they may well have a case.
    Hootie19 wrote: »
    would they have any grounds for appealing this fine, or should they just pay up and shut up, and be grateful to the inspector at the local station for not imposing the £400 fine?
    It's not a fine, the question should be: do they appeal the penalty fare? The answer is: I'd probably appeal - depending on the full details (which I do not have). You have 21 days to appeal, I believe. (check what the letter says but I am pretty sure it's 21) but I wouldn't leave it more than a few days.
  • edited 1 October 2011 at 11:18AM
    newfoundglorynewfoundglory Forumite
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    edited 1 October 2011 at 11:18AM
    Penalty fares ARE fines. No matter what train company argues differently, its usually about finding a technicality to argue on where it is claimed you don't have a (valid) ticket. I have even seen posters at stations referring to them as "fines"!

    I can see how a mistake has been made here, and they probably didn't have a ticket which was valid. But in this case it seems to me that the ticket seller at your local station (most conditions of carriage and statutory instruments would call this an "authorised person") gave permission for your son to travel using that ticket on the day agreed. Consideration was given - money was paid. Contract was formed. What the ticket says or technically provides is irrelevant.

    It should be easy to locate the offending ticket seller, if they work at your local station.

    You have proof that not only the journey was paid for, but that you were given permission to travel and that the train operating company is in breach of contract.
  • cubegamecubegame Forumite
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    Simples.

    The penalty fare in unenforceable. The penalty fare rules state (cite this is an appeal) that:-

    7.4

    An authorised collector must not charge a penalty fare under
    rule 6.5 if, when the person entered the compulsory ticket
    area:

    a there were no facilities available for selling the appropriate
    ticket or other authority for the journey the person wanted
    to make or for entering the compulsory ticket area;

    b warning notices were not displayed at the entrances to the
    compulsory ticket area in line with rule 4;

    c a notice was displayed which indicated that people were
    allowed to board the relevant train or enter the compulsory
    ticket area without a ticket or other authority to do so; or

    d a person acting, or appearing to act, on behalf of the
    operator of the relevant train or of that station indicated
    that the person was, or people generally were, allowed to
    board that train or enter the compulsory ticket area
    without a ticket or other authority to do so.

    With reference to d), if the barriers were open the penalty fare in unenforceable. I have been successful using this a reason for an appeal when I decided to travel on an earlier train than booked on because my train was an hour late.
  • HappyMJHappyMJ Forumite
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    Penalty fares ARE fines. No matter what train company argues differently, its usually about finding a technicality to argue on where it is claimed you don't have a (valid) ticket. I have even seen posters at stations referring to them as "fines"!
    National Rail says penalty fares are NOT fines. The reference to fines that you see in the station may be the result of court cases arising from unpaid penalty fares and the matter being taken to court.
    :footie:
    :p Regular savers earn 6% interest (HSBC, First Direct, M&S) :p Loans cost 2.9% per year (Nationwide) = FREE money. :p
  • newfoundglorynewfoundglory Forumite
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    I thought you might say that. But no. In this case the poster was definitely referring to a penalty fare as a fine.
  • HappyMJHappyMJ Forumite
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    I thought you might say that. But no. In this case the poster was definitely referring to a penalty fare as a fine.
    The poster is referring to it as a fine as £400 was mentioned by the ticket collector as a fine and they were willing to offer a penalty of £20 instead. Only a court can issue a fine. A penalty is an offer by the train company (£20) to avoid court. It's not a criminal offence. It's a civil matter and the £20 can only be recovered as a debt in the county court.
    :footie:
    :p Regular savers earn 6% interest (HSBC, First Direct, M&S) :p Loans cost 2.9% per year (Nationwide) = FREE money. :p
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