GTR has confirmed that further Penalty Fare stations will be added from Friday 30 September.
The stations affected are: Appledore, Bishopstone, Crews Hill, Doleham, Edenbridge, Godstone, Leigh (Kent), Newhaven Harbour, Normans Bay, Nutfield, Ore, Pevensey Bay, Southease, Three Oaks, Winchelsea.
New Ticket Machines Do Not Take Cash
Each of these stations has a new ticket machine, although it only accepts credit/debit cards. Passengers – who until now may have bought their ticket on board the train – are now expected to buy a ticket before boarding or face a Penalty Fare. This is a minimum of £20 and can run into hundreds of pounds.
The machines do not accept cash. There is concern that this may unfairly place people without credit/debit cards at risk of an unfair Penalty Fare, as they cannot buy a ticket before boarding. This could include children, some senior citizens who may be less inclined to carry cards, and those on low incomes or with debt issues.
Section 4.30 of the Penalty Fares Policy Document makes clear that if the only means of buying a ticket at a station is from a machine that does not accept the form of payment the passenger has available, then the Penalty Fare should NOT be issued.
However, it is possible a dubious incentive scheme may motivate GTR’s Revenue Protection Officers to issue the Penalty Fare anyway.
More information is available in my previous post on this subject.
Below is an enquiry I sent to GTR and their response.
I understand from your franchise agreement you are required to make all GTR stations Penalty Fare stations by September 30, and precede that with an advertising campaign to make passengers aware of the change.
Could you please confirm:
- From which date stations that are currently excluded from the Penalty Fare scheme will become Penalty Fare stations?
- What form the advertising campaign will take + when it will run from and to?
Also, I have previously covered this subject on consumerlookout.info and some concern has been expressed on social media as a result of that article about the fact that the new ticket machines do not accept cash.
The concern was that people who may not carry credit cards, e.g. children, some pensioners and people with debt problems, may therefore not be able to purchase a ticket before boarding and may receive a Penalty Fare. Can you confirm that your Revenue Protection Officers are fully trained that this is one of the exemptions listed in section 4.30 of the Penalty Fares Policy document and that they will sell a ticket rather than issuing a Penalty Fare under these circumstances.
A GTR spokesman said:
From 30 September the Penalty Fare Notice scheme will be extended to all GTR stations. Penalty Fares are in place to encourage passengers to buy their tickets before travelling. Even if only a small percentage of passengers travel without paying, substantial sums of money are put at risk. Reducing the number of passengers who do not pay is not only in the interest of the train operator, but also fare paying passengers.
The stations which will join the Penalty Fares Scheme from 30 September 2016 are:
Passengers travelling from these stations will need to buy a ticket that is valid for their entire journey before travelling, otherwise they may have to pay a Penalty Fare. Ticket machines will be installed at these stations to enable passengers to buy before they board.
Posters will be installed at these stations to inform passengers of this change. In addition, passengers will be advised on Customer Information Screens and through Public Announcements at the station.
Our Authorised Collectors are all fully trained and will apply discretion in appropriate circumstances as they currently do under the Penalty Fares scheme.