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Railhub Archive
1996-08-13 ORR-001
Office of the Rail Regulator


Penalty fares: Rail Regulator promises greater safeguards for passengers

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penalty fares

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Office of the Rail Regulator

Penalty fares: Rail Regulator promises greater safeguards for passengers

13 August 1996
source Office of the Rail Regulator
type Press release

note ORR/96/18

In a policy statement published today the Rail Regulator, John Swift QC, sets out how penalty fares schemes must change to provide greater safeguards for passengers.

Introducing the document, Mr Swift said, "As part of a continuing process of working with the industry to create a better railway for passengers and other users I have consulted widely on this issue. I have concluded that, while broadly acceptable, the current system for charging penalty fares does not give sufficient protection to the honest passenger and could discourage use of the railway network.

"'Penalty Fares' has an ominous ring to it. It signals an ability to impose a penalty or a fine over and above the normal fare on a passenger who is travelling without a ticket. Both operators and passengers have legitimate interests in a system which works to deter fraudulent travel and reduce costs to the railway, but Parliament was rightly concerned that the innocent passenger should be given every protection against being charged a penalty fare improperly.

"I have therefore decided that all existing schemes will need to be altered in some important ways to secure this objective. My Office will now be initiating discussions with operators to secure that, by Autumn, the new rules will be in place and the process of re-approving schemes can then begin."

In order to satisfy his criteria for evaluating penalty fares schemes, which are reaffirmed by his policy statement, the Regulator has concluded that changes are necessary to ensure that:

there are adequate back-up facilities to buy tickets when the station ticket office is closed;
generally, on board conductors do not sell tickets in penalty fares areas as this undermines the integrity of schemes and causes confusion to passengers;
appropriate publicity is in place, including at interchange stations in penalty fares areas, which makes it clear which operator's scheme applies;
arrangements are in place for penalty fares operators to be informed of any interruption to normal retailing arrangements;
misunderstandings regarding complex and restricted use tickets are dealt with by charging the appropriate excess fare, not an additional penalty fare, in accordance with the National Conditions of Carriage;
platform tickets continue to be available in compulsory ticket areas;
there are improvements in standards of training of Revenue Protection Inspectors; and
arrangements for handling appeals are approved by him.
To meet with the Regulator's approval appeals arrangements will need to be manifestly independent and consistent in approach. The Regulator considers that the appeals handling service currently provided by Revenue Protection Support Services (RPSS), which is managed by South Eastern Trains, could meet these requirements subject to changes in its management and accounting practices. South Eastern Trains or the other operators collectively should be able to substitute alternative arrangements provided that they are acceptable to the Regulator.

Appended to the Regulator's policy statement are draft revised Penalty Fares Rules, to take account of these changes. The new rules will be finalised once discussions have taken place with interested parties and the Regulator is satisfied that there are no practical difficulties affecting the timescales and other changes.

Notes to Editors

1. The Regulator's criteria for evaluating penalty fares schemes were set out in the consultation document and are now confirmed as:

Passengers must be fully informed before entering a penalty fares area or boarding a train subject to penalty fares about what represents a valid ticket or permit to travel, and what liability will be incurred by passengers who do not have one.
For the liability to take effect there must be a high degree of assurance of the passenger's ability to purchase a valid ticket or permit to travel before entering a penalty fares area or boarding a train subject to penalty fares.
Passengers must not be penalised if there was no adequate opportunity to purchase a valid ticket or permit to travel at the time at which they entered a penalty fares area or boarded a train subject to penalty fares.
2. Prior to the Regulator's Penalty Fares Rules coming into effect on 1 April 1994, there were nine penalty fares schemes already in place. These were: Chiltern Lines, Great Eastern, London, Tilbury and Southend, South Central, South Eastern, South West Trains, Thameslink, Thames Trains and West Anglia Great Northern. Three further operators have introduced schemes since 1 April 1994. These are: North London Railways, InterCity West Coast and Regional Railways Central.

"Penalty Fares: a Policy Statement" is available, free of charge, from Sue MacSwan, ORR Library.
An audio tape version is also available.

"Penalty Fares: a Consultation Document" was published in October 1995 and is also available from ORR Library.

Railhub Archive ::: 1996-08-13 ORR-001


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