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Frequently Asked Questions

So I haven’t got a ticket yet. What’s all the fuss?

Ticket checking activities are essential to encourage all passengers to purchase tickets before travelling. This helps to ensure that everyone pays the correct fare. If only a small number of people travel without paying, substantial sums may be at risk. Tackling this problem is as important to the majority of passengers who pay their fares as it is to the train operators.

What if I’m running late, can i just get on a train?

No. It is always your responsibility to leave time to buy a ticket before travelling, where ticket-purchase facilities are available.

What if I could not get a ticket at the station booking office because it was closed or the machine was not working?

If there is a booking office or self-service machine at a station, an intending traveller is obliged to obtain a ticket before boarding any train. The train operating companies monitor these facilities, and where there are failures, the ticket-checking staff are notified. CCTV covers all stations and many trains. Additionally, if you are travelling on a national railway service in an area where Penalty Fares are applicable, there may be a “Permit to Travel” machine at the station. This looks like a bit like a pay and display car park ticket machine. You must use this machine to obtain a permit, which must then be exchanged for your correct ticket at the first opportunity and in accordance with the rules printed on it. For example; this must be produced if an Inspector asks for your ticket, or immediately you arrive at your changing point or destination station.

If I haven’t got a ticket I can only be charged a Penalty Fare, right?

No. That is not correct. An Inspector or other authorised person may levy a Penalty Fare (where appropriate) but not all train operators have Penalty Fare schemes. Where these schemes do exist, an Inspector is never obliged to accept or apply a penalty fare. If an Inspector believes that evidence exists to show that a traveller may be attempting to avoid the payment of a fare, the traveller may be reported and could then face prosecution in a Magistrates’ Court. In some areas an Unpaid Fares Notice may be issued, but this does not apply on all operators services.

If I don’t have a ticket or the means of payment with me, can I get on the train and pay the fare later?

No. The law is very clear in this respect. A traveller must have a valid ticket showing that the fare has been paid, or acceptable means to pay the fare if there was nowhere available to get a ticket before boarding. The train operators are not obliged to accept all payment methods. For example: Debit cards that are electronically read cannot be used on board trains. (This is a rule of the issuing Banks and may also apply to credit cards and other payment methods on some railways.)

Why can I not just pay on the train?

In some areas you can. Where a train operator has a ‘Pay on Train’ policy, signs to that effect will advise the traveller. In all other areas a ticket must be purchased before travelling. Any traveller must abide by the specific rules of the train operator on whose services they intend to travel. In all areas where pre-purchase facilities are provided the traveller must buy a ticket before boarding in order to comply with National Railway Byelaw 18.1 (2005)

What if I have a season ticket and left it at home?

A ticket that is not available for inspection cannot be accepted as valid for any specific journey by rail staff. You must purchase a ticket for the rail journey that you are intending to make before boarding the train, where ticket-purchase facilities exist. You may apply for a refund on the day ticket at the station where your season ticket was issued.

What if I only discover that I’ve forgotten my season ticket after I have started my journey?

If you are not able to produce a valid ticket at any check, you may be reported or issued a Penalty Fare Notice where such schemes are applicable.

What if I travel beyond the validity of my ticket?

It is your responsibility to buy any additional ticket, or pay any excess fare that you may require to extend an existing ticket to make it valid before travelling. If you do not do so, you may be reported or may be liable to a Penalty Fare as appropriate. If you become aware of the need to extend your journey after you have started on the last train to your destination it is your responsibility to approach on-train staff, declare the additional journey and pay the fare due at the first opportunity.

If I’m issued a Penalty Fare Notice, is there a right to appeal?

Yes. Any appeal against liability for a Penalty Fare must be put in writing within 21 days of the date of issue and sent to the address shown on the Penalty Fare Notice issued at the time.

If I’m told that I am being reported and maybe prosecuted, can I appeal or make any complaint?

Yes. When any person is reported the train operator or their appointed agents will write to the person reported, who will be able to make any comment in writing before a final decision is made.