Revenue protection policy

Our aim is to be clear and transparent with customers in everything we do. This short guide sets out our revenue protection policies and processes so you can be sure we deal with all of our customers fairly and consistently.

We take fare evasion extremely seriously. The railway loses an estimated £500m every year through ticketless travel and fraud. It is therefore clear that an effective policy should be in place to reduce this. Ensuring everyone travels with the correct ticket is in the industry’s interests, as well as the vast majority of customers who do purchase the correct ticket.

We try to make buying a ticket as simple as possible and give customers every opportunity to purchase the correct ticket. We offer ticket sales at stations through ticket offices, ticket vending machines and online ticket sales.

We recognise that some operators have different policies in place to deal with people travelling without a ticket, or without the correct ticket. The information set out below details our policies relating to this area as well as other useful advice if you find you have encountered a problem.

If things go wrong

There are times when things don’t go as planned and people may need to travel without the means to do so. We know that tickets can get lost, people are victims of crime and you may miscalculate how much money you have left - we’re all human.

If you find yourself stuck, please speak to us - don’t just board a train and hope for the best. We are able to process ‘silk arrangements,’ which allow a person to pay for your ticket elsewhere at any National Rail station in Great Britain. Once payment is received at that office, we will issue a ticket for you, subject to an administration charge.

There may also be circumstances where we will allow you to travel without a ticket, but we will give you an authority to travel so that you don’t encounter a problem at another station.

Minors and vulnerable adults

Our staff are trained to be able to assist vulnerable people and we have policies in place that cover this area. We don’t want to see people stranded at night and we don’t want people left in potentially dangerous locations with no means of getting home.

If you find yourself in trouble, please speak to a member of staff before boarding a train – or at the first available opportunity. If you can’t find a staff member, we have help points at every one of our stations and they’re available 24 hours a day.

Penalty Fares

Govia Thameslink Railway operates a Penalty Fare scheme. This scheme is governed by the ‘Penalty Fares Regulations’ 2002, which is available to download online.

Penalty Fares are not issued because we believe you have intentionally or fraudulently travelled without a ticket - it reflects the fact you do not have the correct ticket, or have no ticket at all. Any authorised collector is able to issue a Penalty Fare. All our collectors carry photo identification, which is available upon request. Where issued, a Penalty Fare is calculated as double the full single fare to the next station stop, or £20 - whichever is greatest.

In order for us to issue a Penalty Fare, it must have been possible for you to purchase the correct ticket before you boarded. So for example, if the ticket office was closed and the ticket machine was not working, a Penalty Fare will not be issued. Please bear in mind our staff are able to check whether ticket offices are open or if our ticket machines are faulty. We won’t issue a Penalty Fare if you were unable to buy a ticket because of a disability or other condition (if evidence can be provided), providing you have made a reasonable effort to purchase a ticket before you board.

All our trains and stations operate within our Penalty Fare scheme, with the exception of Crews Hill.

It is possible you could receive a penalty fare from another train operator if you leave the railway at a station not managed by us. For example, if you travel on a Great Northern train to Cambridge you may receive a fine from the Greater Anglia staff there.

Sometimes, tickets are available between two different locations, but there is more than one route you can take. Your ticket will indicate the route you can use. If you use a different route we won’t charge you a Penalty Fare - only the difference in price between the two routes. When a Penalty Fare is issued we will ask for your name and address so that we can complete the relevant paperwork. Under the Railways Act 1993, section 130, and section 12 of the penalty rules, failure to give the correct details is considered a criminal offence. We verify your details through a helpdesk which uses various sources of data including electoral roll details.

Penalty Fares should always be issued in line with the Penalty Fares Regulations. All of our authorised collectors receive substantial training to enable them to do their job effectively.

Our collectors have no targets to meet in terms of the number of fines they issue, as we feel that this would compromise the fairness of the scheme.

The Penalty Fare scheme has been approved by the Department for Transport and a summary of the scheme is available on request.

Penalty Fare appeals

If you have been issued with a Penalty Fare but believe it was issued incorrectly you will find details of how to appeal on the paperwork you were given. The staff member issuing the fine will also explain the appeals process to you. All appeals for Penalty Fares we’ve issued are considered by the Independent Penalty Fares Appeals Service (IPFAS).

The address for IPFAS is as follows:

Independent Penalty Fares Appeals Service
PO Box 30, Portsmouth PO1 1ER

IPFAS are an independent organisation who will assess your appeal based on its own merits, against a set of criteria – which is agreed by the Department for Transport.

Appeals will be accepted in the following situations:

  • Where we have failed to meet the requirements of our scheme, the rules or the regulations. For example, if warning notices were not properly displayed in line with rule 4, or you could not buy a ticket because there were no ticket facilities available at the station where you joined the train
  • Where discretion guidelines in accordance with the penalty fare rules have not been applied

Prosecutions

There are a number of situations where we may choose to proceed with a prosecution, such as:

  • Where we believe you have intentionally or fraudulently travelled without the correct ticket
  • Where you refuse to pay, or cannot pay, for your journey
  • Where you provide false details to us whilst being issued a Penalty Fare
  • Where you have received a high number of Penalty Fares previously, and we therefore decide that you intended to avoid payment
  • Where we believe you have altered dates on tickets (including Carnet tickets)

Where we decide to prosecute, our authorised collector will caution you and ask if you understand the caution. A statement will then be taken and you will be asked to sign it.

Once completed, a copy will be sent to our prosecutions team, who will write to you asking for your version of events. When you receive this letter please do not ignore it. This is your opportunity to explain what happened so that we can make a full assessment on whether or not we should refer the matter to a court. Should you chose not to respond, our prosecutions team will make their own assessment based on the information they have available.

Should you receive any correspondence from the prosecutions team then please write to them directly. All correspondence, where appropriate, will receive a reply.

What happens if I am taken to court?

When a case is taken to court, we usually seek compensation for the ticket lost, plus our costs. Should the case be heard in a magistrates court then a fine and conviction may be imposed in addition to our application for costs and compensation. We will, wherever possible report all offences alleged to have taken place to the court, either under the Regulation of Railways Act 1889 or the National Railway Byelaws. It’s worth bearing in mind that a fine from a magistrates court can be up to a maximum of £1000.

Finally

We really don’t want you to pay more than you need to for your ticket and the vast majority of our customers pay only the correct amount. You’ll understand that an effective policy is necessary to encourage some people to purchase a ticket.