Transport User Voice – November 2018 – Case study

29 October 2018

So your mobile is dead… how valid is your digital railcard or ticket?

Mrs G holds a digital Railcard via an app on her phone. She purchased tickets at a station and boarded her train. When the ticket inspector asked to see her tickets and Railcard she found the battery on her phone had died. Mrs G asked the ticket inspector to charge her phone on the train but was denied the use of a power socket because that would be “stealing from the train company”. The inspector issued an Unpaid Fares Notice because Mrs G could not show her digital Railcard.

Mrs G appealed the fine with the inspector – Revenue Protection Support Services (RPSS) – but this was rejected. She was instructed to pay the Unpaid Fares Notice even though she successfully demonstrated she held a valid Railcard and ticket, so would be paying twice for one journey.

Transport Focus took this case to Southeastern – the train operating company Mrs G was travelling with – to understand why the appeal was not upheld. Southeastern explained that the Unpaid Fares Notice was issued correctly, but agreed that a degree of leniency should be given when evidence of a valid Railcard is supplied at a later date and by a ‘first time offender’.

Southeastern went on to say it discussed this case with RPSS and mutually agreed to cancel the Unpaid Fares Notice because, initially, the correct outcome was not reached. Southeastern also assured Transport Focus that RPSS will investigate the matter further and intends to offer further training and guidance to ensure this remains an isolated incident that is not repeated with other passengers in the future.

When it comes to power sockets aboard its trains, Southeastern explained that it only offers these to passengers aboard the highspeed trains – not on the service Mrs G used. Southeastern accepted there are sockets near the train doors on the slower trains, but stressed these are industrial sockets with much higher wattage than conventional sockets (used by staff for cleaning and maintenance) and are not suitable for use by members of the public.

Regarding what the ticket inspector said to Mrs G, Southeastern asked Transport Focus to pass on its sincere apologies for this and confirmed that conductor managers have been tasked to brief their teams on this issue.

Mrs G was delighted with the outcome.

More information about current best practice regarding Digital Railcards is available on the Senior Railcards website.

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