Passengers who fail to buy tickets before boarding will be fined

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Train operator Northern is introduce penalty fares for customers who fail to buy their ticket before they board the train.

By the end of May, customers travelling without a ticket on a Northern train on a number of select routes, including from Manchester to Wilmslow, could face a penalty fare of £20.

If a passenger gets on a train without a ticket or Promise to Pay notice, which must be obtained from a ticket vending machine if customers do not have the facility to pay by card, they may be liable to pay a penalty fare.

The penalty will be either £20 or twice the full single fare from the station where they got on the train to the next station at which the train stops - depending on which is the greatest amount. If the passenger wants to travel beyond the next station they must also pay the relevant fare from that station to their final destination.

Northern says the penalty fares system is the latest phase of its campaign to encourage all customers to buy their travel before they board the train.

Liam Sumpter, Regional Director for Northern, said: "The penalty fares are a natural extension of the Buy Before You Board Campaign we launched in 2016 and follow a successful trial in Yorkshire earlier this year.

"Sadly there is still a minority who believe they have a right to travel without buying a ticket. Their actions reduce the overall income of the rail industry and, as a result, reduces the money available to invest in further improvements to the railway.

"Everyone who travels by train should have a valid ticket or pass. Or must be able to demonstrate they have made every effort to buy a ticket before they boarded.

"If they are unable to do either of these then, from the end of May, our authorised collectors will be on hand at stations along the routes to either issue £20 fines or ask customers to pay double the cost of a single ticket to their destination, whichever is higher."

The routes which will see penalty fares introduced are:

· Manchester Victoria to York
· Manchester (all stations) to Liverpool via Newton le Willows/Warrington Central
· Manchester (all stations) to Wilmslow via Manchester Airport

As part of Northern's ongoing modernisation of the rail network, new ticket machines have been introduced to give customers more choice and greater ease when buying their tickets.

Liam added: "We have invested in new state-of-the-art ticket machines across our network to help customers purchase tickets. These machines offer a full range of fares – including discounts.

"With online and mobile ticketing, as well as ticket offices at our staffed stations, there is really no reason for anyone to board a train without a valid ticket.

"For customers who want to pay by cash, our ticket machines will issue Promise to Pay notices which can be exchanged (along with a cash payment) for a ticket when on board the service or at the next available ticket office."

Northern Rail


Here's what readers have had to say so far. Why not add your thoughts below.

Andrew Clark
Friday 6th April 2018 at 7:12 pm
Does Handforth have a ticket machine for self purchase of tickets?
David Hoyle
Friday 6th April 2018 at 7:42 pm
I walked past the station in Handforth today.There was a ticket machine but the screen was blank so I could not tell if it was working or not.
Dave Cash
Saturday 7th April 2018 at 1:43 am
"Penalty fare rules altered to offer greater protection to those making genuine mistakes.

New rules coming into force today (6 April 2018) will offer a greater level of protection for rail passengers issued with a penalty fare, where they make an honest mistake, Rail Minister Jo Johnson has announced.

Fare dodgers will continue to receive tough penalties, but those with a genuine reason for not having a valid ticket will now be able to challenge a penalty with an independent committee, not connected to the rail companies. Once an appeal is received, the clock will stop on the 21 day deadline for the payment of a penalty fare, until the outcome is resolved."
Russell Young
Saturday 7th April 2018 at 9:30 am
Preparations to protect revenue for when they remove guards from trains. Profit over Safety.
Mark Russell
Saturday 7th April 2018 at 9:58 am
Russell, I don’t get your point? Dubai has driverless and conductor less trains all over the city, and they work fine and run on schedule!
Jon Armstrong
Saturday 7th April 2018 at 1:25 pm
Before they put the physical barriers and human checkers at the major stations fare dodging was extensive. Many guards on the trains make little or no attempt to check tickets, and when they do very often a blind eye is paid when people conveniently look out of the window when the guard comes round. When you travel daily you get to know which guards check tickets and which really don't make much attempt to make sure people pay. I've seen people just outright refuse to buy a ticket and nothing happens. Groups of usually teenagers hide in the toilet for the whole journey and nothing happens. And when people do get challenged, it's amazing how many claim to have got on at the last station we passed through. And only need a single. Since they introduced the barriers at Crewe, Stockport, Manchester, etc at least that's put a stop to a lot of it, but it's still pretty widespread at the smaller unmanned stations, and in the evenings when the barriers aren't manned the guard often stays in the cab for the whole journey, doesn't go round the train at all, and everyone knows it.

As someone spending hundreds each month on commuting, I'm 100% with this as a lot of people have been getting away with it for a long time and those of us who are honest pay more because of it. It's way more than the odd bad apple.
Pete Taylor
Monday 9th April 2018 at 8:46 am
I suppose the answer really is never to get on a train which runs to/from Manchester via the airport (not that I would anyway as it takes too long). Obviously if you are going to the airport that is not an option!
When travelling to Stockport or Manchester there are three operators, Arriva Wales, Virgin and Northern who, if I'm reading it correctly, will not be using the fine system on that route.
Wyndham Livesley
Monday 9th April 2018 at 11:27 am
Handforth has had a ticket machine for a few months now, but it has never been switched on. Which is baffling. Wonder what's the hold up with it being operational?
Russell Young
Monday 9th April 2018 at 4:02 pm
Hardly a reasonable comparison between Dubai's relatively small system and Great Britain. The GB network hasn't the copious CCTV network and similarly laid out of stations that would allow guardless operation safely.
As for the comment regarding the failure of guards to collect revenue, whereas that can can happen, and it's rare in my experience. With staff member on the train, the penalty fare isn't going to be collected either.
Enforcement needs manpower and you aren't going to get that without a physical presence and a properly trained one at that.
Vince Chadwick
Tuesday 10th April 2018 at 10:38 pm
Pete Taylor; no, the answer is to buy a ticket.

Russel Young; 30 years of drivers working the doors, or driver only operation, in UK and Europe and elsewhere (not least London Underground) with no safety issues and far less delay to train dispatch, not to mention the approval of Driver Only Operation by UK Rail safety authority, would challenge your (perhaps politically agenda-inspired RMT?) view.

The frequent rail strikes over this issue are quite ridiculous in the 21st century.

I cannot see the sense of a local train arriving at Wilmslow while we wait in the rain for upwards of a minute for the doors to be released so we can board. The guard is inevitably in the process of selling a ticket to someone who got on at an un-manned station while we get wet waiting for him to finish his transaction, rush down the trainto the door panel, and release the doors.

While we customers are queuing by the locked doors getting soaked, the driver is sitting in his cab doing absolutely nothing. But because of union rules, he is forbidden from 'pressing the button' to release the doors while his colleague is collecting revenue.

This silliness has to stop, like it already has on many UK lines and abroad. You don't suffer this in Germany, for instance, where I often travel by train.

We need to have on-train staff collecting revenue, not opening doors. And we need to reduce delay induced by station dwell time because the union won't let the driver press a button. And it'd be good to be able to board the train instead of waiting in the rain on a wet day for absolutely no valid reason.
Pete Taylor
Wednesday 11th April 2018 at 7:42 am
Well-ranted Vince!
As it turns out this is a non-story. Northern have now said that they will continue to have “conductors” on all their trains and they will sell “standard price (only)” tickets to those who have not been able to purchase one already; for whatever reason.
Russell Young
Wednesday 11th April 2018 at 9:24 am
No safety issues ?. Really ?
Just one of many, if you bother to research it.

And as usual, the uninformed ranting about pressing a button. The dispute is about a safety critical member of staff on board, not revenue (although that can be part of that member of staff's duties). Obviously, passenger safety and security sits way below getting a bit damp.
Vince Chadwick
Wednesday 11th April 2018 at 3:56 pm
Russell Young, we can all quote incidents ad infinitum. Here's one from me (which had a less happy outcome than did yours):
Plenty more, if you bother to research it.

Researching it would also inform you (since it's you that seems to be the uninformed one here) that the UK rail safety authority, the RSSB (Rail safety and Standards Board) and the UK independent regulator, the ORR (Office of Road and Rail) both approve Driver Only Operation as safe. They are hardly going to do that it were unsafe. Indeed it has operated safely in many countries for decades, including about 30% of UK rail operations (since 1982 on the Bedford - St Pancras services, for instance).

I trust the RSSB and the ORR on this far more than I trust a left wing union which has a political agenda far outside safe railway operation. And we've been here before; remember when the union insisted there should two men in the cabs of non-steam locomotives and to have otherwise would be unsafe? That was rightly discounted and diesel and electric trains have been single-manned in the cab all over the world for decades with no safety impact whatever. In fact removing the distraction of a second man has probably improved safety.

We have a very expensive railway in UK and over-manning is a contributor to that and needs to be addressed, as does unnecessarily long station dwell times (you don't get that in Germany, for instance).

But don't just take my word for it. Here is an independent view from the Railway Technology website, which has no axe to grind over this issue. I suggest you read it:
Chris Wigley
Wednesday 11th April 2018 at 5:23 pm
Handforth which has frequently won the best kept station has neither a ticket machine, has only morning staffing, no electronic information board or disabled access. I have frequently boarded the afternoon Manchester train and the guard has not come round selling tickets. This means I have to queue up at Piccadilly, perhaps I should fine Northern for its many failures at Handforth?
Paul Tracey
Wednesday 11th April 2018 at 6:30 pm
@Chris Wigley, it is even worse if you make the journey from Handforth to Stockport. You end up queueing twice; once to get through the barrier after explaining your situation, then again to purchase your ticket. The guard rarely emerges from his cabin.
Russell Young
Wednesday 11th April 2018 at 7:36 pm
That link refers to a one off accident, which could by being posted, look like a cynical attempt to justify a politically motivated point by using a tragic death to justify it.

The inference being the presence of a guard was dangerous and reassignment of a guards duties to just the driver would have prevented it.

I have no connection whatsoever with any railway, union or political party. However, I use the railway extensively and just want it as safe as it can be, bearing in mind it's old and creaking and doesn't have the technology wizardry of foreign railways that it always gets compared with.

It's pretty clear that doesnt bother some.

I does me and I make no apology for it.
Andy Brownhall
Wednesday 2nd May 2018 at 9:58 am
I recently travelled into town and bought a ticket for me and my brother at AE station; however the machine only sells 'standard tickets' not the 'Duo' ticket which is normally available. Turns out there's a conductor on the train happily selling 'Duo's' to anyone who hasn't bought a ticket. Slightly miffed to say the least.
Of course next time i go i wont buy one at the station, there wont be a conductor and i'll get fined. Brilliant.