Train Passengers Get Protection For Honest Mistakes

Elizabeth Elden
6th April 2018, 12:00 PM
  • New rules will protect passengers who made an ‘honest mistake’ with tickets
  • Rules come into effect today
  • Previously would face a penalty of £20 or twice the cost of a single fare
Train passengers will be able to appeal their penalty fines from today. Image: Getty

Rail passengers issued with a penalty fare after making an ‘honest mistake’ will have greater protections from being fined.

New rules, that come into force today, will allow anyone with a genuine reason for not having a valid tickets to challenge a penalty through an independent committee.

The committee will be unconnected to train companies.

Once an appeal is received, the claimant will not have to pay their fine until the outcome of the dispute is decided.

The new system will give greater consideration to the circumstances of how and why penalties are issued in a bid to ensure people are treated fairly, according to the Department for Transport.

Rail minister Jo Johnson said, “Rail users should make every effort to get the right ticket for their journey, but if you make an honest mistake you should feel confident that the appeals system will recognise that and treat you fairly.

“We are simplifying the rules around penalty fares and introducing an independent appeals process to help those who make a genuine error when using the railway.”

Rail passengers have been hit this year by the biggest increase in ticket prices for five years, although the new Millennial Railcard will save some passengers a third off their travel costs.

New rules on compensation have also been issued so it’s easier for customers to get their money back when a train has been delayed.

Penalty fares can be given to customers when someone travels without a ticket, is unable to produce a railcard on a discounted ticket, travels in first class with a standard ticket, or stas on a train beyond the destination they paid for.

Passengers will either receive a charge of £20, or twice the cost of a full single ticket, whichever is greater.

This can lead to penalties reaching hundreds of pounds for long distance trips.

Jacqueline Starr, managing director of customer experience at the Rail Delivery Group, said, “Customer sometimes make genuine mistakes.

“The changes to the penalty fares system, which is meant to deter fare dodgers, will help those who feel they have been mistreated and ensure there is enough time to deal with their appeal.

“Fare dodgers deprice the railway of about £200 million every year, which would otherwise be invested to improve Britain’s railway for customers, communities, and the economy.”

The new rules will not apply to any penalty fares issues before Friday 6th April.

What do you think of the new rules? Let us know in the comments.

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