On Air Now
Heart Breakfast with Jamie Theakston and Amanda Holden 6:30am - 10am
22 August 2019, 14:27
Thousands of rail passengers have been overcharged for not having a valid ticket.
Train companies have admitted to overcharging thousands of passengers caught dodging their fares.
A new legislation was brought in last April which reduced the punishment for some fare dodgers depending on the time of their journey.
But the Rail Delivery Group (RDG) - who issue guidance to rail firms - reportedly failed to correctly set out the updated rules, meaning eight train companies didn’t implement them.
As a result, up to 10,000 ticketless passengers could have been affected by the mistake, with tens of thousands of pounds being unfairly demanded by inspectors.
The train companies affected are Chiltern Railways, Govia Thameslink Railway, Great Western Railway, Greater Anglia, Northern, Southeastern, South Western Railway and London Northwestern.
Around 1,500 Southeastern passengers were affected by an average of £8.
London Northwestern Railway estimates it overcharged 2,700 people by £4.44 per person, while Great Western Railway says the average refund is £6 and that it has posted cheques to those affected.
About half of those overcharged will be given refunds, however in most cases the train companies didn’t take passengers full contact details.
Posters will be displayed at stations to let anyone who thinks they may be owed money to get in touch with their train operator.
The RDG have ensured it has conducted an investigation to make sure staff are properly trained.
Penalties are given to passengers who are caught without a ticket; those travelling on a cheaper fare and unable to produce the relevant railcard; those travelling in first class with a standard ticket; or those staying on past the station named on the ticket.
The fine is £20 or twice the appropriate single fare, whichever is higher.
David Sidebottom, director of watchdog Transport Focus, said in a statement: “Passengers will want urgent answers as to why this error occurred and assurances from the rail industry that it is being investigated and fixed immediately.
“Train companies need to do everything possible to demonstrate that they have a clear plan to get things back on track, provide train staff with the correct advice to avoid this happening again and make sure passengers aren’t out of pocket.
“Only then will people feel confident that they are being treated fairly.”