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Revenue Protection Policy: Travelling without a valid train ticket

With the right train ticket, you will avoid being fined, be able to travel when it suits you and may save yourself money.

If you do not have a valid ticket and are approached by a revenue protection officer, who is an authorised penalty fare collector, you may be liable to a penalty fare (of £20 or twice the full single fare to the next station at which your train stops - whichever is the greater amount), or you may be prosecuted.

If you wish to continue your journey beyond the next station stop you may be required to buy a full single or return fare for the remainder of your journey. Railcard discounts may not be available if you are caught travelling without a valid ticket.

The vast majority of our passengers always buy a ticket before they join a train, but there is a small minority who do not. We aim to ensure that every passenger who travels by South West Trains holds a valid ticket for their journey and our strategy for achieving this includes:

  • Continually reviewing the availability of ticket purchasing facilities;

  • Reviewing the availability of ticket gates at stations; and

  • Operating a penalty fares scheme.

We operate a Penalty Fares scheme for three reasons:

  • To build upon the public support of the principle of tackling fare evaders;
  • To encourage passengers to buy a ticket before their journey, rather than to wait until they have to, or are challenged to do so; and
  • To reduce fraudulent travel, i.e. those who do not intend to pay, regardless of the opportunity to buy a ticket.

 

How does the South West Trains penalty fares scheme work?

If you are travelling from a penalty fare station on a penalty fare train, and:

a)

You do not have a valid ticket and are approached by a revenue protection employee, who is an authorised penalty fare collector you may be liable to a penalty fare of £20 or twice the full single fare - whichever is the greater amount - to the next station at which your train stops.
 
If you wish to continue your journey beyond the next station stop you may be required to buy a full single or return fare for the remainder of your journey.
 
b)

You do not have a valid train ticket and are approached by a guard, who is NOT an authorised penalty fare collector you may be liable to pay the full single or return fare for the journey you have made or wish to make and you will not be entitled to any discounts (for example, Railcards) or special terms, which would otherwise apply. This is in accordance with the National Rail Conditions on Carriage.
 
When the guard issues you a ticket, a penalty fare warning will also be issued, so that you are aware of the penalty fare scheme should you be approached by an authorised penalty fare collector on your next journey.


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How can I pay for my penalty fare?

Our Penalty Fare scheme is administered by the Independent Revenue Collection and Support Limited (IRCAS).

You can pay the full amount to the authorised collector or if paying for only part of the Penalty Fare, you can pay the remaining amount in one of the following ways:

  • Through the IRCAS website
  • Call IRCAS on 0844  544  8458
  • By sending a cheque/postal order to IRCAS, PO Box 212, Petersfield, GU32 9BQ

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Do I have the right to appeal against a penalty fare?

If you wish to appeal against a penalty fare, you must do so within 21 days of the issue date. You can appeal online at ircas.co.uk, or by writing to:

Independent Appeals Service
PO BOX 212
Petersfield
GU32 9BQ

This appeals service is independent of South West Trains and your appeal will be considered based on the facts concerning the case. 

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Who can charge a penalty fare?

Only those who have been specifically trained as authorized collectors can charge you a penalty fare. Authorised collectors carry an authorised collector's identification badge, which must be shown upon request. 

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What happens if I am late arriving at the station and do not have time to buy a ticket?

You are still liable to a penalty fare if you travel from a penalty fare station on a penalty fare train, as it is your responsibility to leave enough time to buy your ticket. 

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Can I pay on the train or at my destination if I am in a rush?

Not if you are travelling from a penalty fare station on a penalty fare train. If you do you may be liable to a penalty fare. 

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What if there is no ticket office or, if there is it is closed?

The majority of our stations have a self-service ticket machine which takes cash and credit cards. In these cases the machine should be used. At a small number of stations a Permit to Travel machine is provided. Use the self-service ticket or permit to travel machine(s) which are available at all penalty fare stations. For a permit to travel machine insert the maximum number of coins you have with you, up to the value of your journey.

The permit must be exchanged for a valid ticket at the first opportunity and within two hours. The value of the permit will be refunded to you when you have exchanged it for a valid ticket. 

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What if the self-service machine(s) or permit to travel machine is out of order and there is no ticket office or, if there is it is closed

If the self-service machines are out of order, or the ticket office is closed outside of the advertised hours, we have a system in place to ensure our authorised collectors are made aware of this. Regular checks are made on all our self service machines to ensure that they are in full working order and are monitored to ensure the time they are out of service is kept to a minimum. If you are unable to purchase a valid ticket for travel, you should approach the on-train staff at the earliest opportunity.

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What if I want to buy my ticket by credit card and there is no ticket office or, if there is it is closed?

Where a self service ticket machine is in operation, you should purchase a ticket from the machines. Where a self-service ticket machine is not provided, you should purchase a Permit to Travel and then exchange this for your ticket.  

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What should I do if I have forgotten my Season Ticket and/or photocard and realise before joining my train?

You should buy a ticket to cover your journey before joining your train. You may subsequently apply for a refund on this ticket at the ticket office where you purchased your Season Ticket. Only two refunds of this type will be considered in a 12 month period and an administration fee may be charged. 

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What if I find out I have forgotten my Season Ticket and/or photocard once I have joined my train?

If you realise, before it is requested, that you have forgotten your Season Ticket and/or photocard, you need to approach the on train staff. If a non-authorised collector approaches you, buy a ticket and apply for a refund as detailed above. If an authorised collector approaches you, they will record details of your Season Ticket and issue you with an authority to travel.

You must send this authority to travel together with a clear photocopy of your Season Ticket and photocard to the address detailed on the authority to travel. Failure to return the authority to travel or making a false claim can lead to prosecution. 

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What if I have purchased a discounted ticket with a Railcard, but cannot produce the Railcard when asked to do so?

You may be liable to a penalty fare as the discounted ticket is only valid on production of the Railcard.

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What happens if I travel beyond my destination?

It is your responsibility to buy any additional tickets you require to make your original ticket valid for your entire journey before you travel. Otherwise you may be liable to a penalty fare. 

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Does South West Trains issue Penalty Fares on other train operating companies services?

We have agreements with some other train operating companies; details of these are available from our Customer Service Centre

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Please note: This is only intended to be a guide and should not be regarded as a complete or authoritative statement on the Penalty Fare Rules 2002. Copies of the Penalty Fares Rules are available from our Customer Service Centre.