Transport User Voice – You and your train company

23 November 2017

Northern penalty fares

We know how frustrating it is when it seems a minority of passengers are getting away without paying for their journey. So it’s very important that train companies take steps to catch those who deliberately set out to avoid buying a ticket. However, train companies must also ensure they treat passengers who have made an innocent mistake fairly.

Starting next month Northern plans to operate a penalty fare scheme on the Airedale and Wharfedale lines to and from Leeds. This means if a passenger gets on a train without a ticket at a station where ticket buying facilities are available they may be liable to pay a penalty fare of at least £20.

Transport Focus provided detailed feedback to Northern on this plan. We highlighted three key requirements to ensure passengers can have confidence in the new system:

  • ticket buying facilities at stations should be adequate to ensure queues are not excessive
  • staff issuing penalty fares should show discretion, especially while the scheme is new
  • the changes should be widely communicated to ensure they are understood by passengers.

Northern’s ‘Buy Before You Board’ campaign has been encouraging passengers to buy their ticket online, at the station or on an app for some time. However, we know some Northern passengers have longstanding experience of being able to buy their ticket on the train or at their destination station, especially when travelling from unstaffed stations.

It’s very important that Northern raises awareness to ensure these passengers, including those who travel infrequently, don’t get caught out by the changes. We will be monitoring the introduction of the scheme and how this is communicated to passengers over the coming weeks.

Greater Anglia ticket office changes

We have raised a number of issues with Greater Anglia about planned ticket office changes to Walton, Harwich International, Thorpe le Soken, Great Bentley, Dovercourt, Great Chesterford and Alresford over the past few months.

We continued to object until satisfied that these were being addressed. We believe Greater Anglia has responded positively to these concerns and as a result we lifted our objection resulting in some quick wins:

  • staff will provide assistance over a longer period at the seven stations while the new arrangements are introduced
  • existing toilet facilities will be retained for the foreseeable future
  • three station hosts will be present on early and a late shift at Thorpe le Soken as well as at Harwich
  • on-train staff on the Walton and Harwich lines will be retained for the duration of the franchise.

Have your say on South Western Railway’s timetable

South Western Railway will be making some major changes to train services in its December 2018 timetable. The proposals, including a summary of some of the comments raised to date, can be seen on its website here. You can also submit your own thoughts.

The closing date is 22 December 2017.

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