My dog ate my train ticket and other excuses

Monday, 12 March 2018

Greater Anglia has revealed the range of excuses fare dodgers use for travelling without a ticket from “my dog ate my ticket” to “I never pay for travelling on the railway”.

The rail company’s revenue protection team regularly patrol trains across the Greater Anglia network, issuing in total between 4,000 to 6,000 penalty fares a month and prosecuting between 500 to 700 people in court.

Revenue protection officers and inspectors use their discretion when they come across passengers travelling either with the wrong sort of ticket or no ticket at all.

Only passengers travelling without a ticket or any money or means to pay for a ticket are prosecuted in court.

People travelling with the wrong ticket – maybe on a child’s ticket or with a railcard discount when they don’t have a railcard – face a penalty fare.

Fare dodgers give many reasons for not having a ticket. A common excuse is people saying that they thought their Oyster Card was valid to stations beyond the cut-off point of Shenfield – even though there are announcements on trains and posters at stations stating this.

Other excuses they have heard include “my wife picked mine up”, “I have a funeral to go to”, “the ticket office was busy” and “I left it in my car”.

Common excuses also include “I thought I could buy at the other end”, “my card wouldn’t work”, “I forgot to renew, I buy one every week”.

Greater Anglia revenue protection staff are informed if ticket machines are out of order or ticket offices closed, so when these are used as reasons, they know if they are genuine.

Kim Bucknell, Greater Anglia Head of Revenue Protection, said: “My team has heard all the excuses before. They use their discretion in deciding what action to take and have been trained to spot someone who is trying to either get away without paying or travelling on the wrong ticket.

“Not paying for a ticket results means there is less money to invest in our railway and that prices may go up even further for those who do pay.”

Recent court cases

Last week fare dodgers were ordered to pay just under £42,000 in fines and costs.

On Monday 5 March, Basildon Magistrates’ Court dealt with 100 cases of fare dodgers caught travelling without a ticket on the Greater Anglia line in south Essex, including the Southend Victoria and Southminster lines, and ordered fines of £12,761 and costs of £10,050

On Tuesday 6 March, Ipswich Magistrates’ Court dealt with 49 cases and issued £11,880 in fines and £7,350 in costs for fare dodgers using lines in the north of the Greater Anglia network including the Norwich to Cambridge line.