Penalty Fare Appeals



A fair and independent assessment.

Because a Penalty Fare is the reverse of the normal "innocent until proved guilty" British justice system, a passenger may want to appeal against a penalty fare if they think that it has been charged incorrectly or unfairly. An effective and independent appeals process is therefore an essential part of any penalty fares scheme.

Under rule 9, every penalty fares scheme must include a process for handling and deciding appeals in line with a code of practice which the Department of Transport (DfT) has approved.

IPFAS has an approved appeals procedure with the following features:


The organisation deciding an appeal must be, and must be seen to be, independent of the day-to-day commercial management of individual train operators. The cost of processing your appeal is paid by the train operator and the fee per appeal is the same, irrespective of the outcome.

Although IPFAS is a part of Southeastern, all the conditions specified by the DfT in para 4.40 of the Penalty Fares Policy statement are satisfied, and IPFAS has been sanctioned as an official independent appeals body for over 15 years.

Clear criteria for accepting or declining an appeal

IPFAS appeals assessors follow clear and specific criteria agreed by the DfT to decide whether a particular appeal should be accepted or declined.

Appeals will be accepted in the following situations:

  • where a train operator has failed to meet the requirements of their scheme, the rules or the regulations. For example, if warning notices were not properly displayed in line with rule 4, or the passenger could not buy a ticket because there were no ticket facilities available at the station where they joined the train.
  • where appropriate discretion has not been used by an authorised collector, in accordance with the train company's discretion guidelines and penalty fare rules.

A consistent approach by appropriately trained staff

It is important for both passengers and train operators to know that any appeal will be judged fairly and consistently, in strict accordance with the DfT criteria. IPFAS ensures that every appeal is investigated by an experienced assessor who has undertaken the necessary training in the application of the Penalty Fare Rules and Regulations.

Access to the information needed to decide each appeal

IPFAS appeals staff assess whether the train operator has met the requirements of their scheme, the Rules and the Regulations. For example, they check train company records of the actual opening hours of ticket offices, when ticket machines have broken down, and any other information or documentation in order to determine an accurate, fair and factual assessment.

Human Rights

Appeals must also take account of peoples’ rights under the Human Rights Act 1998 and the European Convention on Human Rights. The IPFAS appeals procedure is compatible with these rights.


Unpaid Fares Appeals

Unpaid fares notices (UFN) are very different from penalty fares notices and make no extra charge, penalty or fine in the first instance. The amount outstanding shown on the UFN is only the correct fare for the actual journey that has been made. Simply, the passenger has completed their journey and now has a bill to pay because a valid ticket was not available for inspection when they travelled.

There are always mitigating circumstances for not having a valid ticket and while these may be compelling, they tend to be irrelevant to the facts of a UFN strict liabilty matter. Any appeal would therefore need to prove that the ticket shown when travelling was actually valid for the exact journey which was made. Even producing a valid ticket or railcard later does not negate liabilty to pay the UFN bill for not producing a valid ticket when requested at the time of travel.

The National Rail Conditions of Travel set out the conditions for judging any appeal and you will find a link on the Library page.


Making an Appeal

Appeals can be made by sending a written statement to the address, shown on the front of the notice, with 21 days from the date of notice issue or by using the link below to the appeals on line service.

Please note that the appeals online service cannot be used until we have received a copy of the notice from the Train Company and entered this into our database which may be up to 10 days after the notice was issued.

You will need your copy of the notice issued to you at the time you travelled to ensure you enter the correct details on the next page. The "notice prefix" is ALL the "letters" shown before the numerical digits (bottom right corner of the notice - large bold type), and the "notice number" is comprised of ALL the digits (including any zeros). This is NOT the same as the "Notice Number" shown on any letter you may have received, which is a debt recovery case reference number. If you get a message asking for a 6th digit, please add "0" at the beginning of the number on the notice.

Once you have successfully lodged your appeal online, an automated message will appear on screen informing you that you will receive a response within 15 days, which you may wish to print off and retain for your records. Your appeal response can be delivered electronically or by post. If you choose the email option, please check your junk/spam mail box because your letter will be delivered from a "no-reply" email address.

As we are unable to accept attachments on line, it is recommended that you post copies of any documentation relevant to your appeal, ie Railcard, season ticket and photocard, Oyster records, tickets, under separate cover (with a copy of the notice or a covering letter) if you wish them to be taken into consideration in your appeal assessment.

Please be aware that making an appeal does not mean that payment of any amount outstanding is suspended. Debt recovery action is separate from any appeal and administration fees may be incurred if full payment is not made within the time specified.

Please do not use the appeals on line function for issues not relating to appeals as these will NOT receive any response.


Revenue Protection Support Services
P.O. Box 89, Portsmouth, PO1 1EG

Independent Penalty Fares Appeals Service
PO Box 30, Portsmouth PO1 1ER
Appeals can only be dealt with in writing or online

RPSS and IPFAS are trading names of Southeastern

Registered office
Friars Bridge Court, 41-45 Blackfriars Road, London, SE1 8PG
Registered in England and Wales Number 04860660

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