Each year, the UK rail network carries 750 million passengers and earns over £3 billion from the sale of tickets. Even if only a small percentage of these passengers travel without paying, the rail network will lose a considerable amount of money. Reducing the number of people who travel without a ticket is not only in the interests of the operator, but also in the interests of most fare-paying passengers. 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.
Train operators can reduce the number of people who travel without a ticket in a number of ways. On long-distance trains, it is often possible for the on-board staff to check every passenger's ticket. On rural routes, trains stop more often, but as they usually have fewer coaches and carry a smaller number of passengers, on-board ticket checks can also be effective. However, on urban and suburban routes, where station stops are frequent and the trains are often busy, it is not always possible to check every passenger's ticket between every station. In the past, tickets have been inspected by staff at ticket barriers, but it is very expensive to provide staff at every ticket barrier and also inconvenient for passengers. An alternative is to operate a 'penalty fares' scheme.
A penalty fares scheme works on the same principle as a 'pay and display' car park, where motorists may have to pay a penalty if they do not buy a ticket when they park. Where penalty fares apply, rail passengers must buy their tickets before they start their journey wherever there are facilities for them to do so. If a passenger gets on a train without a ticket at a station where ticket facilities are available, they will have to pay a penalty fare if asked to do so by a ticket inspector who has been appointed as an 'authorised collector'. The penalty is £20 or twice the full single fare from the station where the passenger got on the train to the next station at which the train stops, whichever is the greater. If the passenger wants to travel beyond the next station, they must also pay the relevant fare from that station to their final destination.
This has nothing to do with any intention you may have had and is not a "fine"; it is a Penalty Fare. To read more about the DfT policy and penalty fare rules go to the document library or use the FAQ page to help answer your questions.
Appeals against penalty fares must be submitted within the timescales and in writing to the appeals address shown on the front of the notice. Any outstanding payment shown on the notice must be paid within the timescales and in accordance with the instructions on the notice. You may look at the pages about payments and appeals for further information.
Revenue Protection Support Services
RPSS is a trading name of Southeastern