A NEW penalty for those evading paying for public transport comes into effect today (Monday, January 23).

With the penalty of being caught without a ticket on a train set at £20 since 2005, the rail industry felt this figure was too low and was no longer an effective deterrent to would-be fare evaders.

As part of the government's new policy regulations, anyone caught travelling on-board any train in England without a valid ticket will be issued a £100 penalty fare.

This fee will be reduced to £50 if it is paid within 21 days.

Northern Rail give some leeway to customers whose intention was to pay for a ticket, but their credit or debit card wasn't working. They issue customers with a 'promise to pay' notice to pay for a ticket at the next available conductor or booking office.

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The change has come as 69% of respondents agreed that the £20 penalty fare was too low in a public consultation, while industry body, the Rail Delivery Group (RDG) estimates that every year around £240 million is lost through fare evasion on Great Britain’s railways.

Mark Powles, commercial and customer director at Northern, said: “The overwhelming majority of our customers – upwards of 95% - do the right thing and buy a ticket before they board one of our services.

“However, fare dodgers will find themselves having to dig deep if they continue to try and travel without buying a ticket. The £100 penalty fare is a government initiative that Northern and other train operators in England will begin to enforce from today.

“With more ways than ever before to buy a ticket – be it online, through an app, at a self-service machine or ticket office – there really is no excuse. It is, however, totally avoidable for everyone who travels responsibly on our network.”

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.

The increase in the penalty fare brings it in-line with penalty fares charged across much of Western Europe and by Transport for London (TfL) and Manchester’s Metrolink tram network.

Northern’s new timetable came into effect in December 2022 and all customers, especially those who have made regular journeys on specific train times, are advised to use the new 'Check My Timetable' feature on Northern’s website to see changes specific to their local station.