The penalty rail fares charged for travelling without a valid train ticket will increase by £80. The charge, which currently stands at £20, will increase to £100, the government has said.
The Department for Transport (DfT) has said the current fine is not seen as enough of a deterrent for passengers who try to get away without buying a rail ticket. They want to save tax payer’s money, which is currently being used to foot the bill for ticketless passengers.
The new penalty will be issued as a surcharge on top of the price of the ticket for the passenger’s journey, meaning those who do not buy a rail ticket will be charged well over £100 in total. However, the fine will be reduced to £50 if paid within 21 days of issue.
This is the first increase to penalty rail fares in almost 18 years, with the last increase being back in 2005.The laws were passed by Parliament yesterday, 26th October 2022 and will come into effect this coming January.
The change will bring the national penalty to be the same level as Transport for London and Manchester Metrolink. These companies charge £80 and £100 respectively.
It is estimated the evasion of paying correct fares for trains costs train operators an estimated £240 million annually. Saving this money could be used to modernise the railways and help to improve various aspects of people’s journeys.
After the pandemic, it is more important than ever for rail companies to be making a solid profit. This is not only due to lockdowns reducing traveller numbers. Passenger numbers have also dwindled as many people continue to work from home. As well as this, strike action has led to many disruptions this year. Transport businesses are desperate to entice customers back in.
A DfT spokesman said: “We need penalty fares to act as a proper deterrent, and we are putting in place a modern system that will help create a more sustainable railway.”