Penalty fares down 20% in year since government increased fine, says Northern

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Northern has seen a 20% drop in the number of penalty fares issued in the first year since the government increased the fine to those travelling without a ticket to £100.

The train operator issued 41,234 penalty fares between 23 January and 23 December 2023 compared to 52,394 for the same period in 2022.

The £100 penalty fare came into effect on 23 January 2023, one year ago tomorrow.

Mark Powles, commercial and customer director at Northern, said: “This is a significant and much welcomed drop in the number of penalty fares issued.

“The appetite for ‘risking it’ has clearly taken a hit in the past 12 months – and the increase in the penalty fare is no doubt a factor.”

Northern has taken a multi-faceted approach to the issue of fare evasion in recent years, deploying revenue protection teams to known hotspots; introducing new technology to help expedite ticket checks at stations and on-board its trains; and clamping down on cases of digital fraud.

Mark added: “It’s worth remembering that upwards of 95% of our customers do the right thing and buy a ticket before they travel.

“The reduction in attempted fare evasion is a victory for taxpayers who ultimately foot the bill for those that try not to pay.”

Between 2005 and the price rise in 2023, the penalty fare had been just £20 – but it was felt by the industry that that figure was too low and was no longer an effective deterrent to would-be fare evaders.

As part of the government’s public consultation, 69% of respondents agreed that £20 was too low as a penalty fare.

Money raised through penalty fares issued by Northern will, in-line with other revenue income streams, be re-invested in the rail industry to improve the service offered to all customers.

Fare evaders are prosecuted under the provisions of the Regulation of Railways Act 1889 and the Railway Byelaws made pursuant to the Transport Act 2000. In cases of ticket fraud, perpetrators are prosecuted under the Fraud Act 2006.

Image credit: Northern

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