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What can happen if I am on a train without a valid ticket?

If you do not have a valid ticket or a valid reason for not having one (as defined in Can I board a train without a ticket?) and you board the train, the train company has a number of options:

The full fare can be charged for your journey
Under the National Rail Conditions of Carriage you could be charged the full fare for the journey. Typical examples of being found aboard a train with an invalid ticket include:  where you have a ticket but have forgotten your Railcard; or where you have an Off-peak ticket but travel in the peak; or where you have an Advance ticket but are on the wrong train. In some instances you may be charged the full Anytime (peak hours) fare; in others it may be the cheapest fare available for journeys made at that time.

You can be issued with an Unpaid Fare Notice (UFN)
If staff on the train consider that your ticket is not valid and that a full fare should be charged you can pay immediately and then, if desired, complain to the train operating company to seek redress. If you do not have the means to pay immediately – or if you choose to complain/appeal before paying – the inspector can issue an Unpaid Fare Notice (UFN). This is not a fine or a penalty but an ‘invoice’ for the fare for the train you are on.
An Unpaid Fares Notice is different from a Penalty Fare.  

You can be issued with a Penalty Fare
Penalty fares were originally introduced to tackle ticketless travel on suburban services whose frequent stops made effective on-train ticket examination impractical. They have since been introduced on other, longer-distance services. They require the passenger to provide a valid reason for not having a ticket. They do not exist on all train routes, and where they are in use clear signs at stations should clarify this to passengers.

If you are in a designated Penalty Fares area and you are not able to produce a valid ticket for inspection you are liable to pay either twice the full Single fare to the next station at which the train is due to stop, or £20, whichever is the greater. Any travel beyond that next station will be charged at the full Single fare.  You can pay the penalty fare on the spot although you do have 21 days in which to pay.  If you feel that you should not have been issued with a penalty fare you may appeal.  Details of the appeals procedure are shown on the penalty fare notice issued to you.

Prosecution for fare evasion
The Railway Byelaws make it an offence to travel without holding a valid ticket and being able to show it on request. A breach of this byelaw is punishable in law and, if found guilty, you would be subject at present to a fine of up to £1000.

An operator can also prosecute for ‘intent to avoid a rail fare’ under the Regulation of Railways Act 1889, s.5 (3) and you may be fined or sentenced to imprisonment for up to  three months. Transport Focus may be able to help or advise you if you have received a court summons. However, we recommend you also seek legal advice if you are being prosecuted

The industry introduced in May 2013 a Code of Practice on dealing with passengers who either have no ticket at all or whose ticket is invalid. 

  • Train
  • Ticket inspection penalties


  • Imran khan

    Hi I wanted information I boarded a train and as I don’t travel on train regularly one in a blue moon I thought to my self I can buy ticket on train but there was no conductor so I carried on till I got to man Piccadilly station I told officer I got on from a closer point to Manchester from Salford and paid the fair and got the ticket a revenue officer stopped me and asked were I got on from and told her I got on from an earlier point and purchased a ticket and lost it she asked how much I paid and took all my details as well but I gave my parents address. I panicked she said u don’t appear on this address after checking I said I do then she told me a letter will come to your house u can explain in there what happened and if u don’t respond u may have bailiffs at your house I believe I made a big stupid mistake and am very worried about getting a criminal offence deeply regret it as I have never been in trouble before please please could U help me thankyou and will they send me fine or an explanation of my story thanks.

  • Peter

    I boarded train, from Castleton this morning, rushing for the train, just made it on, thinking like normal to myself will pick up ticket when I get to Manchester, which I have done on so many different days, when then spoken to like shit off some old guy, ‘tell me why you didn’t actually buy a ticket’, I said I was late and just caught the train, stated that I had broken the law, I said I have the money and am here to pay for return to Castleton please, he stated ‘that wont be happening sir’, took dteails off me told me I would get arrested if I didn’t provide details and that I was getting a fine, £20.00, bollocks this is, I travel all the time and always get my tickets at Manchester when I arrive, as being at Castleton station I don’t show anybody anything, the train journey also took, 22mins in which no conductor even walked through the train in that time, I will be appealing the shit £20.00 fine,

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