Monday, December 07, 2009

Private rail companies to get worse - Daily Telegraph does not care

On Saturday I reported that East Midlands Trains is to introduce a penalty fares scheme on some of its stations so that someone found travelling without a ticket will be charged a penalty fare of £20 or twice the full single fare – whichever is the greater amount – to the next station at which the train stops.

The same day's Daily Telegraph carried the alarming news that these rates are soon to rise to £50 or twice the single fare.

Except it didn't.

Because the paper's story, written by Rebecca Lefort, began:

Foreigners let off train penalty fares

Ministers plan to more than double the fines for most people who travel without a valid ticket. But under current regulations there is a clause allowing ticket inspectors to waive the rules for passengers who do not fully understand the ticketing system because they are visiting from abroad or speak poor English.

This means foreigners may escape the penalties, which are due to rise from £20 to £50, or double the cost of a single ticket if it is greater.

The discretionary policy is recommended for train operators despite another rule which requires them to produce leaflets and display signs about fares in other languages in "areas where a large number of people do not speak English as their first language."

Sir Andrew Green, chairman of Migrationwatch UK, said: "This is absolutely absurd. We would not expect to be let off fines overseas because we didn't speak the language."

It is clear that the Telegraph's prejudices - hates foreigners, likes big business - outweigh the interests of its readers.

And in reply to Sir Andrew, if I found myself in a country where I did not speak the language and got on the wrong train as a result, I hope I would be let off any fine.

Besides, to return to my original post, why should private companies be allowed to fine their customers in the first place?


dreamingspire said...

Bus operators claim that the massive charge is the "Standard Fare" - £20, £30, next week a million...

cabalamat said...

"""if I found myself in a country where I did not speak the language and got on the wrong train as a result, I hope I would be let off any fine."""

This actually hasppened to me, in Amsterdam. I was let off without paying and the ticket inspector was very friendly. I remember telling my friend at the time "it wouldn't happen like this in Britain".

James Dowden said...

This reminds me of an experience I had a couple of years ago one summer Saturday on a Birmingham to London train. I'd got on the First Class quiet carriage (aka the child-free zone) intending to pay the supplement when the guard came around. The only other people in the carriage were four Japanese gentlemen. The guard finally checked the tickets just before Watford Junction, and of course the four of them hadn't understood that they were in a First Class carriage. He let them off. Then he decided it wouldn't be fair to charge me the upgrade, despite the fact that I clearly knew what I was doing. Ultimately, Virgin Trains do seem to be good at having guards with a sense of what is fair. I suspect the good will they get from this sort of level of fairness more than cancels out the generally low level of scammers on Intercity routes.

al-h said...

A few years ago we drove to Italy for our summer holiday and on our way south stopped off for a spot of sight seeing in Milan. We left the car outside the city and caught a bus to the centre but we didn't realise we should have bought our ticket before boarding. Although we protested and offered to get off at the next stop we each had to pay a penalty fare, that was two adults and three children! Payment of the penalty allowed us to continue on the bus but it had spoiled our visit and used too much cash so we got off at the next stop and went back to our car to continue our journey south. Having been a daily commuter into St.Pancras for over twenty years - Midland Mainline and BR - I can't recall a similar unnecessary demonstration of authority.

Anonymous said...

Technically speaking, they are not fines;they are a particular kind of fare - a penalty fare - which applies when the traveller has no, or an incorrectly valid, ticket. That's how they get away with it.

crewegwyn said...

Very curious sign at Crewe station announcing the introduction of this system.

BUT the poster only carries the names of Network Rail and London Midland ( or london midland as they insist ) - so does it apply to the station's other train operators? Deep breath - Virgin West Coast, Arriva Cross Country (or X Country ...), Arriva Trains Wales, Northern Rail, Virgin West Coast, East Midlands and Scotrail !!

Eight different operators - eight different penalty fare policies?