Transport User Voice – May 2018 – Penalty fares

26 April 2018

Passengers who are charged a penalty fare will now be able to appeal to a third-stage independent appeals panel.

A penalty fares scheme means a passenger boarding a train without a ticket, at a station where ticket buying facilities are available, may be liable to pay a penalty fare of at least £20.

The new legislation came into action on 6 April 2018 and panel members will have the ability to look beyond the rules and regulations, consider mitigating circumstances and apply a basic ‘fairness test’.

Transport Focus has been heavily involved in this, running the recruitment exercise and helping to select the members of the panel. Our aim is that this panel acts as a safety net for passengers.

The new rules also tighten up the process on deadlines for payment and appeals and allow for more transparency and monitoring. These changes follow a consultation by the Department for Transport and were in response to issues raised by Transport Focus in our Ticket to ride reports. The reports were driven by the number of complaints received from passengers.

As well as our feedback on the rules we also provided input into Northern’s plans before it introduced penalty fares on the Airedale and Wharfedale lines to and from Leeds. We stressed the importance of communicating the changes and applying discretion. Northern adapted its plans, including allowing more time to get the message out to passengers. It is early days, but we understand the scheme on this route has been going well.

Northern will now draw on the lessons learnt and extend penalty fares to more lines, starting with five more routes in May. As before, this includes some stations where ticket buying facilities haven’t previously been available and some passengers are accustomed to buying their ticket on board the train.

Transport Focus will be monitoring the passenger communications and implementation to help ensure honest passengers aren’t caught out.

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