This page gives you advice about Penalty Fares, and how and where to buy your ticket for travelling on Northern services.
What are Penalty Fares?
If a passenger gets on a train without a ticket or Promise to Pay notice at a station where ticket buying facilities are available, they may be liable to pay a penalty fare. The penalty is the greater of £20 or twice the full single from the station where they got on the train to the next station at which the train stops. If the passenger wants to travel beyond the next station they must also pay the relevant fare from that station to their final destination.
Examples of when a penalty fare may be charged:
• travel without a valid ticket
• are unable to produce an appropriate Railcard for a discount ticket
• are aged 16 or over, travelling on a child rate ticket
• travel beyond the destination on your ticket
What is a Promise to Pay notice?
A Promise to Pay notice is a ticket that must be obtained from our ticket vending machines if customers do not have the facility to pay by credit/debit card. The Promise to Pay notice allows customers to board the train with the intention of exchanging the notice at the first opportunity with a revenue officer, or at the next available booking office.
Why do Northern need to introduce Penalty Fares?
Reducing the number of people who travel without a ticket is not only in our interest as
the operator, but also in the interest of our fare-paying customers.
Few of us want to pay more for our tickets because some people avoid paying, and the
loss of income due to people travelling without tickets reduces the money available to invest in a better rail service.
If I do not buy a ticket before travelling, is it an automatic Penalty Fare?
You are responsible for ensuring that you purchase a ticket or obtain a Promise to Pay notice that is valid for your entire journey before travelling, otherwise you may have to pay a Penalty Fare.
Northern is responsible for ensuring that the facility to purchase a ticket or Promise to Pay notice is available.
Can I pay at my destination if I am in a rush?
If you board a train without a valid ticket or Promise to Pay notice you may have to pay a Penalty Fare. If it is shown that your intention was to avoid your fare, then you are breaking the criminal law and you may be liable for prosecution.
Can I pay my Penalty Fare online?
You can, just go to northernrailway.co.uk/paymynotice
What methods of payment can I use to pay a Penalty Fare?
We accept all major credit/debit cards and postal orders.
Is there a right of appeal against a Penalty Fare?
If you wish to appeal against a Penalty Fare you must do so in writing within 21 days of the issue date and send it to the appeals address on the Penalty Fare notice. The appeals body adheres to an agreed Code of Practice (approved by the Department for Transport) in the assessment of all appeals. The Independent Appeals Service will consider all the facts presented to them on appeal and notify the appellant of the outcome.
What if I want to buy a season ticket and the ticket office is closed, or the machine doesn’t sell the ticket I want?
Ticket Vending Machines sell most weekly season tickets for journeys on Northern services. Monthly season ticket holders can renew their ticket provided their details are recorded in our database. If the required destination station is not listed on the ticket machine, then they should purchase a single ticket to their interchange station or use the promise to pay notice.
What happens if I refuse to pay the Penalty Fare?
You will receive a reminder letter advising you of the outstanding sums owed to us.
If you travel on the railway with the intent of avoiding paying the fare then you may be prosecuted under criminal law. The current maximum penalty upon conviction is a £1,000 fine and/or three months imprisonment.
Where the facility to do so has been provided, you must purchase a ticket or obtain a Promise to Pay notice before you travel.
If you cannot produce a valid ticket or Promise to Pay notice when asked to do so you may be charged a Penalty Fare (minimum £20).
Do you have any questions?
For further information about Penalty Fares on Northern services please contact our Customer Experience Centre.
Telephone: 0800 200 6060
Calls are free, calls may be recorded.
Ways to buy a ticket
Tickets can be purchased from the Northern website at northernrailway.co.uk or via the Northern app.
Trouble reading the above?
You are able to listen to an audio recording of our Penalty Fares Scheme using the YouTube video below.
This web page is intended as a guide and should not be considered a complete or authoritative statement of the law or regulations.
Other train companies may have their own Penalty Fares schemes; this web page only covers the stations served by Northern.