Fare dodgers are ‘depriving the rail network and other passengers of an estimated £200m a year’, according to figures published today by the Association of Train Operating Companies (ATOC) which represents Britain’s train operators.
Fare dodgers who choose to travel without buying a ticket are estimated to be making more than 110,000 train journeys each and every day on the rail network.
The figures come as train companies publish a list of some of the more memorable excuses used by passengers caught travelling without a ticket.
Examples of excuses given by fare dodgers for not buying a ticket include:
“I’m related to the queen so I don’t need a ticket.”
“I’m in the Zimbabwean SAS, on covert ops.”
“Don’t you know who I am?”
“What’s a ticket?”
“Do I need a ticket? I thought the railway was free.”
“If the ticket man doesn’t see me then I don’t need one.”
“I’m a freeman of the land, I don’t recognise the law and the law does not apply to me.”
An adult travelling with a child ticket said: “I thought I was a child until I was 21.”
A passenger claimed he did not buy a ticket because “I didn’t think you would accept my fare.”
“I thought by hiding in the luggage rack you wouldn’t see me.”
The hundreds of millions of pounds lost every year due to fare dodging is money train operators could otherwise invest in improving services for passengers.
It is estimated that the £200m currently lost every year due to fare dodging would be enough to:
Lease over 1,300 extra commuter carriages, or;
Lease around 800 extra inter-city carriages for longer distance journeys, or;
Pay for the upkeep of around 380 stations for the next five years.
Train companies have a number of safeguards in place aimed at ensuring that customers unable to buy a ticket are not given a penalty fare.
Staff are regularly updated about ticket machines which may not be working and other circumstances which may prevent people from buying tickets. Passengers should check with their train operator what its policies are on ticketing and fare evasion.
David Mapp, Commercial Director for the Association of Train Operating Companies (ATOC), said:
“It’s frustrating for the vast majority of honest passengers who do pay for their ticket when fare dodgers’ selfish actions suck millions of pounds out of the railways each year. That’s money both train companies and passengers alike would rather see going back into further improving services. Train companies deal with fare dodgers in a fair but firm manner. Where there is a genuine reason for someone travelling without a ticket, train companies will always use their discretion. Strong deterrents are in place to ensure that the vast majority of passengers don’t end up paying for the few who think they can get away without buying a ticket. As these excuses show, there are always some people who choose to spend time thinking up an excuse rather than buying a ticket.”