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Penalty fares

Your questions about penalty fares and revenue protection on Thameslink answered here…

Penalty fares

A penalty fare is a fare charged at a higher rate than the normal price because a passenger didn't follow the normal rules for buying a ticket. It is not a fine.

The penalty fare will either be £20, or twice the full single fare from the station where you got on to the next station at which the train stops, whichever is the bigger amount. If you want to travel beyond the next station, you must also pay the relevant fare from that station to your final destination.

Penalty fares can be issued by authorised railway staff. These include:

  • guards
  • revenue protection officers (ticket inspectors)
  • station platform staff

You may be given a penalty fare if you don't have a valid ticket (or permit to travel) for your journey.

If you travel on a train without a valid ticket, you will be have to pay the full single fare or full return fare or, if appropriate, a penalty fare for your journey.

Penalty fares can be issued, for example, if you:

  • travel without a valid ticket
  • can't produce an appropriate railcard on a discounted ticket
  • travel in first class with a standard ticket
  • travel on a child rate ticket when you are aged 16 or over
  • travel past the destination on your ticket
  • If you have not activated a day pass for your Flexi Season ticket before boarding the train

Find out more about penalty fares

If your station ticket office is closed and there is no ticket vending machine available, you should buy a permit to travel before you board a train.

If your station has only one ticket vending machine, there may also be a permit to travel machine. This is normally found near the station entrance / exit or beside the ticket vending machine. Permits are not a ticket but they allow you to start your journey. It is valid for 2 hours, during which time you should pay any difference in fare as soon as possible.

Put in coins to the value of your fare. If you have to pay more than your fare because you don’t have the right change, the difference will be refunded when you exchange the permit for a ticket.

If you don't have a valid ticket or a permit to travel then you may have to pay a penalty fare.

If you lose or forget your season ticket/photocard you must buy a replacement ticket for your journey. Keep the tickets because you can claim a full refund at the ticket office where you purchased your season ticket.

Only two refund applications will be considered in a 12 month period and you may be charged an administration fee.

If you find that you don’t have your season ticket once you're on the train, you’ll be asked to give your details and to pay the standard single fare for your journey (which will be refunded on production of your valid season ticket). If you have no money then you will be given a 'nil paid' penalty fare.

You must then send a copy of your valid season ticket to the address shown on the penalty fare. If you don't do this within 21 days you will be asked to pay the full amount (which will be twice the standard day single or £20, whichever is the greater) for the journey undertaken.

Please note this does not apply to Flexi Season tickets.

Firstly you will receive a reminder letter advising you of the money that you owe us.

If you travel on the railway intending not to pay the fare, then you may be prosecuted for fraud. The current maximum penalty upon conviction is £1000 fine and/or 3 months imprisonment.

You are required by law to provide your full name and address to the inspector even if you pay the penalty fare in full. They can check these details and will know if the details you give are not correct.

Yes, you must have a valid ticket or permit to travel before you start your journey.

Most stations have ticket vending machines, but if one isn't available you should buy a permit to travel from the permits machine.

You can check ticket office opening hours in our station information.

Don't forget, you can also buy tickets online or via our app before you travel.

Yes. Our revenue inspectors travel around our network and can issue penalty fares to passengers who do not hold valid tickets. This includes anyone in first class with a standard class ticket.

If you've bought a ticket using a railcard discount and do not have the card, you may be given a penalty fare. Your ticket is not valid without the railcard.

No, you must have a valid ticket or permit to travel before you start your journey.

We have to make sure you can buy your ticket at the station (either at the ticket office or from a vending machine) or buy a permit to travel in a reasonable time. However, it is your responsibility to leave enough time to buy your ticket.

If you get on a train without a ticket or permit you may have to pay a penalty fare.

You should pay the penalty fare when it's issued.You can pay the member of revenue staff issuing the penalty fare with:

  • cash
  • Visa
  • MasterCard
  • American Express
  • Maestro
  • Delta cards

We don't accept Solo or Electron cards.

If you don't have the full amount, then you will be allowed to make a part payment of at least the single fare for your journey. You then have 21 days to pay the balance by;

  • Sending a cheque or postal order to the payment address on the notice (with the notice included). Please do not send cash through the post.
  • Paying online at epfn.penaltyfares.co.uk

Yes. You can appeal against a penalty fare in writing or online within 21 days starting the day after the issue date.

Written appeals should be sent to the address shown on the notice you were given.

You can also make your appeal online at www.penaltyservices.co.uk

Penalty Services is an independent organisation. They will consider your appeal based on the facts of the case and rule on whether to uphold or cancel the penalty fare.

If you were issued with a penalty fare of more than £20 between 1st April 2018 and 31st July 2019 and have proof of the penalty fare issued, please contact us at pfquery@gtrailway.com.

The penalty fares were issued for the correct reason - to passengers travelling without a valid ticket - but a small proportion of passengers issued with a penalty fare of more than £20 over this period may have been overcharged.

Prosecutions

We are a very busy team and it can be a little while before we receive the inspector's reports and process them. If you are concerned you may have missed some correspondence, for example if you have moved address, you can e-mail the Prosecutions Team at gtr.prosecutions@gtrailway.com with the details you gave the inspector at the time and the date you made the journey, and we can look into this further for you.

It is vitally important that you inform us of any address changes, as it is likely we will be sending letters to you via the address given the revenue member of staff at the time, if correspondence is not replied to, this may mean that court action to recover any outstanding fare is taken.

PLEASE NOTE – This mailbox is only used to inform us of a new correspondence address or sending through evidence of a valid ticket or railcard at the time the journey was undertaken, this email address cannot be used to make any appeal or mitigation, any emails sent in this vein will be ignored and deleted.

Any ticket or railcard purchased after commencement of the rail journey will be wholly disregarded as this would not have been valid at the time of inspection.

If you were given a Penalty Fare (Only courts can issues fines) you will have been given a copy of the Penalty Fare Notice at the time with a prefix starting “GTREPF” or “GTRPF”, and this contains all the information you need to pay and appeal.

Here is the payment website: http://epfn.penaltyfares.co.uk

If you were given a piece of paper it starting with the prefix “GTREMG” or a small slip with 7 digits on it, it means the inspector has made a report of the matter that will be passed to the Prosecutions Team who will be in touch in due course. You will be given the opportunity at that stage to explain what happened that day from your point of view.

Your copy Railcard/Season Ticket will be matched with the inspector's report and if everything is in order you will not hear from us, we will only contact passengers when there is an issue between what has been reported and what we have received.

You can submit your railcard here.

We DO NOT issue “Fines”. The Inspector may have spoken to you about a Penalty Fare at the time, but if you did not have the means to pay towards this, or refused to do so, the inspector has no option but to make a report of the incident and pass it to the Prosecutions Team to deal with, Alternatively it is at the inspectors discretion how to deal with matters at the time they speak to a passenger, and they may have decided to report the matter instead of offering to sell you a ticket, or offer a penalty fare.

Once the matter is reported to us we will be in contact via the postal details provided by you at the time. We suggest you reply to the letter and send your explanation, mitigation, and any relevant documentation to the Prosecutions Team.

The Inspector may have spoken to you about a Penalty Fare at the time, but if you did not have the means to pay towards this, or refused to do so, the inspector has no option but to make a report of the incident and pass it to the Prosecutions Team to deal with.

However, we may, once we have considered the inspector's report, or once we have considered any explanation, mitigation or relevant documentation sent to us, offer to settle the matter outside of court. The settlement figure is made up of the outstanding fare and a contribution towards the Prosecution Teams administration costs.

Payment can be made online via our website: payments.gtrailway.com or via card over the phone on 02045669166.

The ticket will be retained by the prosecutions teams as part of the case file. If you require a duplicate ticket, this needs to be applied for at your local ticket office or if purchased online via the online provider who issued the ticket.

If you have purchased tickets to cover your journey before you have received a duplicate ticket, you may be able to claim a refund on those tickets, provided you have retained the tickets purchased.

Once a court pack has been served, you will need to read through the pack thoroughly and return the completed documents to the court address on the pack as soon as possible.

If you are reported for an offence(s) under the railway byelaws these are classed as matters of strict liability.

This means that there is no mention of intent to avoid the fare or committing the offence.

All that prosecution need to do is prove that the offence has been committed. Additionally, buying the correct ticket or supporting document after the offence was committed will not be accepted by the prosecution.

You will need to contact the courts directly as once a fine is imposed this is court matter and can only be dealt with by them directly.

The prosecutions team cannot get involved in matters such as these, we purely act on the evidence provided to us. If you wish to make a complaint about how you were dealt with please raise this with our customer services department here.

If your query is relating to an “Intention to Prosecute letter” we would ask that this is completed and returned to us for consideration.

All matters of appeal should be made in writing to:

Prosecutions Department
Eastside Offices
King’s Cross Railway Station
LONDON
N1C 4AX

If your query is regarding anything else please contact us via email gtr.prosecutions@gtrailway.com – This mailbox cannot be used to appeal, you will be written to in due course and the response should be made out to the address above. Any appeal sent to the above address will be disregarded and deleted.

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