Q. “ Why did I get fined at the barrier when I got off the train?”
A. Northern Rail does not issue any fines instantaneously. Typically an “unpaid fares notice” or a “fail to purchase notice” will be issued granting the customer 21 days to remedy the payment of the fare only. In some instances an incident report will be created and further information will be requested before a final decision is made as to the outcome.
Q. “They won’t prosecute for a matter as small as my fare will they?”
A. It is estimated that fare evasion costs the rail industry over £200 million a year. A large number of the cases prosecuted by the DRPU involve relatively small amounts of money. This reflects the fares charged for travel on the network operated by Northern Rail Limited. However, these small amounts add up to a large sum and comprise the revenue that Northern Rail Limited is committed to protect. Because of this the DRPU will not regard a case as failing the public interest test just because the sum in dispute is relatively small.
Q. “Isn’t this a civil matter? I shouldn’t take too much notice!”
A. No, these are not civil matters. Northern Rail prosecutes under the provisions of the Regulations of Railways Act 1889 and the Railway Byelaws made pursuant to the Transport Act 2000, these can be found at www.legislation.gov.uk/ukpga/Vict/52-53/57/contents and www.gov.uk/government/publications/railway-byelaws
Q. “Is it an offence to board a train without having first bought a ticket? I didn’t realise”
A. Yes, where there is an opportunity to do so, a ticket must be purchased prior to travel.
Railway Byelaw 18(1). This is known as an offence of strict liability, i.e. there is no need to prove intention beyond the act itself.
Q. “There’s not sufficient machines to buy tickets, they can’t prosecute can they?”
A. Northern rail is committed to improving the customer experience and is investing heavily in its future retailing strategy. Each case will turn on its own merits, however it is important to note that frustration or a difference of opinion may not amount to a defence where evidence of an offence exists.