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Penalty rail fare hiked to £100 next week

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The penalty for being caught without a valid rail ticket will rise from £20 to £100 on Monday.

Currently anyone caught without a valid ticket or permit to travel for their journey must pay either a penalty fare of £20 or twice the full applicable single fare to the next station at which the train calls, whichever is the greater.

But from Monday 23 January, the penalty fare for travelling by train without a valid ticket will be hiked to £100, plus the price of the full single fare applicable to your journey.

However, if settled within 21 days, the penalty fare reduces to £50, plus the cost of a ticket for the journey on that train.

This is the first time since 2005 that the penalty fare is set to rise, following laws passed by Parliament in October 2022.

It comes as estimates from the Rail Delivery Group revealed that £240m is lost through fare evasion on Britain’s railways each year.

The Department for Transport said set against the “profound impact coronavirus has had on passenger numbers and industry revenues, it’s never been more important to minimise the cost of fare evasion to the railways”.

When and where are rail fare penalties issued?

Penalty fare notices may be issued if you travel without a valid ticket; are unable to produce an appropriate Railcard on a discounted ticket; travel in First Class accommodation with a Standard class ticket; are aged 16 or over but travelling on a child rate ticket or travel beyond the destination on your ticket.

Penalty fares apply to the following National Rail Train Operating Companies and services in England and Wales. It excludes Transport for London (London Overground and Elizabeth line services) and Merseyrail which run their own penalty fare schemes:

  • c2c
  • Chiltern Railways
  • East Midlands Railway
  • Gatwick Express
  • Greater Northern
  • Greater Anglia (inc. Stansted Express)
  • GWR
  • London Northwestern Railway
  • Northern
  • South Western Railway
  • Southeastern
  • Southern
  • Thameslink
  • TransPennine Express
  • Transport for Wales
  • West Midlands Railway.

‘Right to deter fare evaders’

Anthony Smith, chief executive of independent watchdog, Transport Focus, said: “It’s right that train companies catch and deter those who evade paying for their ticket. Penalty fares must act as an effective deterrent, otherwise fare dodgers end up being subsidised by the vast majority of honest passengers.

“As the penalty is increasing, it is more important than ever that train companies ensure passengers are treated fairly and their staff use discretion when it is clearly an innocent mistake.”

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