Preston station hosts a 'play fare' scheme for passengers to help tackle fare dodgers

Ticketless travel across the North is being met with the message ‘play fare’ by the rail industry.

Checking a mobile phone ticket at Preston station
Checking a mobile phone ticket at Preston station

Train operators Avanti, Northern and TransPennine Express (TPE), together with British Transport Police (BTP), joined forces to host a three-day operation designed to educate rail travellers and tackle persistent fare dodgers.

The operation, held at Preston station, highlighted the ongoing issue of ticketless travel which costs the rail industry millions of pounds each year – money which could be reinvested in providing better journeys.

During the three days, 155 people were reported to be travelling without a ticket or with an incorrect ticket.

Jason Wade, Head of Retail Operations at Northern, said: “We know many people have been away from the railway for a long time and may have got out of the habit of buying tickets for their journeys. We’ve worked hard during this time to give customers better ways to buy tickets, making it quicker and easier to do.

“We’re reminding everyone that they should always buy their ticket before they board any rail service, but we’re also showing that we won’t hesitate to take appropriate action if people keep traveling without a paying.”

Court prosecutions are, usually, the last resort with all efforts being made to avoid criminal proceedings. Penalty fares are one way in which the rail industry is trying to address persistent fare dodgers without involving the courts.

The on-the-spot penalties, which are either £20 or double the cost of a single fare for the journey taken (whichever is the greater), are being enforced on-board trains and at destination stations by the industry’s authorised collectors.

Where customers believe a penalty fare has been applied wrongly there is a tried and tested, independent appeals process which is used across the country.