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Author Topic: Protection against penalty fares for honest mistakes  (Read 1117 times)
TaplowGreen
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« on: April 06, 2018, 09:27:18 am »

This is good news

http://home.bt.com/news/uk-news/train-passengers-given-more-protection-over-honest-mistakes-with-tickets-11364262760820
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grahame
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« Reply #1 on: April 06, 2018, 09:49:17 am »


Indeed

Quote
Rail passengers issued with a penalty fare after making an “honest mistake” will have greater protection under rules which come into force on Friday.

Anyone with a genuine reason for not having a valid ticket will be able to challenge a penalty through an independent committee unconnected to train companies.

Once an appeal is received the clock will stop on the 21-day deadline for payment 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 this 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.”

Penalty fares can be issued 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 stays on a train beyond the destination they paid for.

Passengers receive a charge of either £20 or twice the cost of a full single fare, whichever is greater. That can lead to penalties reaching hundreds of pounds for long distance trips.

Jacqueline Starr, managing director of customer experience at the Rail Delivery Group, representing train companies, said: “Customers sometimes make genuine mistakes and 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 deprive the railway of about £200 million every year, money which would otherwise be invested to improve Britain’s railway for customers, communities and the economy.”

Alex Hayman, managing director of public markets at consumer group Which?, said: “Some people will occasionally make a genuine mistake when travelling by train – that could include a commuter accidentally leaving their season ticket at home, or a passenger choosing the wrong option because of a complex and confusing ticketing system.

“It’s encouraging that these passengers will now have an independent body to turn to if they decide to appeal their penalty, so that they can be confident that the issue will be resolved fairly.”

Article is short on detail of the independent system - like who runs it, who pays for it, how to contact it - but I suspect it's the Rail Ombudsman and a strong Transport Focus link?
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plymothian
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« Reply #2 on: April 06, 2018, 10:26:15 am »

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Jacqueline Starr, managing director of customer experience at the Rail Delivery Group, representing train companies, said: “Customers sometimes make genuine mistakes and 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.

But penalty fares are for genuine mistakes; prosecution is for fare dodgers!
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didcotdean
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« Reply #3 on: April 06, 2018, 11:54:25 am »

What might happen is less discretion for those where the "mistake" is fairly obviously "honest" and therefore more automatic PFs with a need to appeal to recoup as appropriate.
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TaplowGreen
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« Reply #4 on: April 06, 2018, 11:59:09 am »

What might happen is less discretion for those where the "mistake" is fairly obviously "honest" and therefore more automatic PFs with a need to appeal to recoup as appropriate.

Which would indicate a training/development need for those issuing penalty fares.
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bignosemac
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« Reply #5 on: April 06, 2018, 01:44:31 pm »

What is far more likely to happen is TOCs eschewing Penalty Fares and increasing the use of the "pay us eighty quid or we'll take you to court" threatening letters. These are already used frequently for 'honest' mistakes by both passengers and train operators.
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didcotdean
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« Reply #6 on: April 06, 2018, 01:52:31 pm »

Few of course have the option for proper PFs across all services.

Might have been better if the whole issue had been reviewed in the round.
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Tim
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« Reply #7 on: April 06, 2018, 09:41:30 pm »

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Jacqueline Starr, managing director of customer experience at the Rail Delivery Group, representing train companies, said: “Customers sometimes make genuine mistakes and 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.

But penalty fares are for genuine mistakes; prosecution is for fare dodgers!

In theory perhaps, but the ToCs issue them to people they suspect of being deliberate dodgers because they cant be fagged with the expense and hassle and evidential burden of bringing a prosecution.
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« Reply #8 on: April 06, 2018, 11:22:46 pm »

Surely an honest mistake is fare dodging, but only the once, whereas fare dodging is a series of honest mistakes?
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grahame
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« Reply #9 on: April 07, 2018, 12:36:09 pm »

New guidelines at http://www.nationalrail.co.uk/Penalty%20Fares%20Guidelines%202018.pdf - every passenger needs to read and understand these, and the relevant ticketing rules in addition which define what is and isn't a valid ticket for a journey, prior to travel.  Failure to understand and as a result breaking the rules leaves you liable to a penalty fare (and to prosecution too - though you should be found innocent if it was a mistake). 

Simples ;-)

Up-thread I questioned the setup that would be used for the independent third stage review panel

Quote
If an appeal has been declined at both First and Second Stage Appeal, you can appeal to a Final Appeal Panel.
The Final Stage appeals panel, is different from the previous two stages in that will be conducted by an independent panel of three members, where the majority decision will decide the outcome. This panel will be independent of any Operator or their affiliates and will not be part of the appeal providers’ corporate structures.

To ensure this panel is independent, passenger groups will work with appeal providers to approve panel members and ensure they are trained and operate effectively. Any Final stage appeal panel should have involvement from passenger groups in ensuring they consider cases fairly.

Final Stage appeals must be submitted within 14 days of the date of the decision of the Second Stage Appeal. The panel will as with previous stages, consider cases based on information provided by both previous stages and any additional information provided by the passenger. They will also consider mitigating circumstances outside the normal rules which could impact the outcome of the appeal. This "reasonableness test" will allow for situations outside the scope of the rules to be considered.

After the third stage appeal, a passenger has exhausted their appeals and must then pay the required Penalty Fare.

and

Quote
INFO BOX 10
Members of the Final Appeals Panel will be agreed and appointed by the appeals body in consultation with London TravelWatch and Transport Focus as consultants, not directly employed by any organisation connected to a Penalty Fares Operator

The use of the future tense suggests to me that members of the panel have not yet been appointed (or hadn't when this document was written) even though it's now in force.   It would also appear that the appointments will be made by the earlier stage appeals bodies (of whom they are supposed to be independent?) with help from passenger groups London TravelWatch and Transport Focus who - however - tend to be seen by many more as a governmental organisation with a mandate to look out for passengers rather than a passenger group.

I suspect the third level may end up being pretty academic ... rather like something I came across in the bus industry when doing some digging a few weeks past that has cost an awful lot to contract and heard a total of two cases.
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eightf48544
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« Reply #10 on: April 07, 2018, 04:19:36 pm »


Grahame says:"...every passenger needs to read and understand these, and the relevant ticketing rules in addition which define what is and isn't a valid ticket for a journey, prior to travel.  Failure to understand and as a result breaking the rules leaves you liable to a penalty fare (and to prosecution too - though you should be found innocent if it was a mistake)."

Who is this super human passenger who understands " the relevant ticketing rules in addition which define what is and isn't a valid ticket for a journey, prior to travel?"

 
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Four Track, Now!
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« Reply #11 on: April 07, 2018, 06:50:08 pm »


Grahame says:"...every passenger needs to read and understand these, and the relevant ticketing rules in addition which define what is and isn't a valid ticket for a journey, prior to travel.  Failure to understand and as a result breaking the rules leaves you liable to a penalty fare (and to prosecution too - though you should be found innocent if it was a mistake)."

Who is this super human passenger who understands " the relevant ticketing rules in addition which define what is and isn't a valid ticket for a journey, prior to travel?"


A question that will very likely be asked at an early appeal hearing, and regularly thereafter.
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broadgage
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« Reply #12 on: April 19, 2018, 07:34:46 pm »

IMHO, passengers found without a valid ticket when they should have had a ticket, but with reasonable extenuating circumstances should be required to supply their name and address, and the TOC should hold this on file for say one year.
If they are caught a second time, without some truly exceptional reason, then a penalty fare should be payable, AND their details kept for say two years.

Prosecution should be the norm for third and subsequent instances, unless there is some exceptional reason not to prosecute.

This would avoid unduly penalising those who have made a single mistake, but would prevent anyone from regularly getting away with a "good story" and claiming each time that it was a mistake.

Although officially a penalty fare is the consequence of making a mistake, in practice they are often used as a cheaper or simpler alternative to prosecution.
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Brucey
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« Reply #13 on: April 20, 2018, 06:55:49 pm »

Having skimmed through the new Penalty Fare guide, something interesting stood out at me: "Promise to Pay Coupons".

After a bit of Googling, they appear to be Northern's replacement for Permit To Travel machines.  Where someone boarding at a card only TVM station wishes to pay by cash, they have to obtain a Promise To Pay from the TVM.

I cannot find any further information, such as whether the passenger has to provide any personal details to get one, or whether it is simply to prove the station of origin (preventing passenger from getting a cheaper fare).

I wonder whether this option will be spreading further afield?  No more "honest, guv, I only got on at Bemmie" when they actually boarded at Nailsea.
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Fourbee
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« Reply #14 on: April 21, 2018, 04:39:06 pm »

After a bit of Googling, they appear to be Northern's replacement for Permit To Travel machines.  Where someone boarding at a card only TVM station wishes to pay by cash, they have to obtain a Promise To Pay from the TVM.

Have Northern been farming the coffee shop for ideas?

From this thread:
http://www.firstgreatwestern.info/coffeeshop/index.php?topic=18656.0
There could be a case for a modern day "Permit to Travel" from a TVM, maybe even a zero issue ticket which could prove the station you boarded at in these circumstances?

They can donate any royalties to the forum's upkeep or maybe a couple of new hard drives Smiley
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