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.

Sam Cummings
Friday 6th April 2018 at 12:57 pm
I think my main question is 'WHY?'

If you don't buy one at the station, you get one on board. If you don't get one on board you have to buy one at your destination.

I pretty much always buy mine up front, but on occasion haven't been able to for whatever reason. If someone told me I had to pay £20 I'd like to understand the actual reason why that amount?!
Rosemary Taggart
Friday 6th April 2018 at 1:01 pm
Glad to see that a machine is now available at Alderley Edge. I used to have to get on and pay conductor or at destination.
Pete Taylor
Friday 6th April 2018 at 4:02 pm
When they remove the “Conductors” (or, as I like to think of them, Guards) to save money- and as a result decrease safety, there will only be the Driver on the train. They, obviously, will not be able to sell tickets or, in fact, deal with any “situation” on the train or at any unmanned station.

In a country which has gone H&S mad, this surely is potentially a grave error.
David Cummings
Monday 9th April 2018 at 8:38 pm
I am a regular traveller . I arrived this morning to find the ticket office closed . I purchased a ticket at the new machine. I met on the platform a friend who is not a regular traveller to Manchester by rail. When we arrived at Piccadilly he went to buy a ticket as there was no guard was treated appallingly . Northern Rail must make it clear at Stations that New Machines are available to purchase tickets.
Alan Brough
Tuesday 10th April 2018 at 6:42 am
The non-regular traveller should beware.

It is possible to buy a ticket for a trip from Wilmslow to Manchester Piccadilly and then find that the ticket is only valid for certain trains - Northern Rail and not Arriva (for example.)
Pete Taylor
Wednesday 11th April 2018 at 7:52 am
Northern have now announced that they will continue to have conductors on their trains and that they will sell standard price (only) tickets to those who have not been able to purchase them before boarding.
Vince Chadwick
Wednesday 11th April 2018 at 9:37 pm
Pete Taylor, driver only operation is no threat to safety.

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).

Here is an independent view from the Railway Technology website on this issue.