Passenger Voice January 2016: Case Study
21 December 2015
Mr L was returning to his home in Alsager from Crewe by train with London Midland.
Mr L had used this route before, in previous years, but going in the opposite direction – Alsager to Crewe. As Alsager doesn’t have ticket purchasing facilities, Mr L was used to buying his on board the train.
On this day, Mr L arrived at Crewe station and went straight to the platform to board the train, intending to purchase a ticket from the guard. However, rather than being offered the chance to buy a ticket, Mr L was issued with a Penalty Fare Notice.
Transport Focus has repeatedly called for train operators to show some discretion where innocent mistakes have been made. We believe that it would be far more reasonable to give a warning and opportunity to pay, and an explanation in simple terms of what went wrong. Simply reiterating the terms and conditions is not particularly clear or helpful.
As it was clear that Mr L was unaware of the requirement to buy a ticket before boarding, and given that he was used to buying on board, we asked London Midland to consider refunding his Penalty Fare as a gesture of goodwill.
Although the Penalty Fare was technically issued correctly, we explained to London Midland that this case echoes the points we raised in our Ticket to Ride report and discussed the benefits of education over penalising the passenger. However, despite our strength of feeling and numerous appeals, London Midland was unwilling to consider our request.
Strictly speaking, the Penalty Fare Notice was issued correctly and as such Transport Focus cannot instruct London Midland to overturn this. However, we were disappointed that more discretion wasn’t shown in this clear example of the lack of consistency across journeys catching passengers out.