Tips for Avoiding & Dealing With Unfair Penalty Fares

Before Travel

  • Buy a ticket before boarding the train if there is any working facility to do so.
  • If you cannot buy a ticket (no machine), buy a Permit to Travel if there is a machine to do so.
  • If you cannot purchase a either:
    • Photograph the station sign/name where you are boarding.
    • Photograph any error message on a broken machine.

During Ticket Inspection

  • Be polite and remain calm.
  • Check the inspector’s ID and Authorisation to Collect document and note down details.  They MUST show you this and allow you to note details.  If they fail to do so, do not hand over money or personal data – they may not be a genuine staff member.  Instead call the police for assistance.
  • Make it clear that you are appealing the Penalty Fare.
  • If you were unable to buy a ticket before travel because there were no facilities to do so, it is probably best not pay the Penalty Fare on the spot.  Companies may be slow to or refuse to refund money, despite the Penalty Fare being issued in breach of the rules and you could be seriously out of pocket in the meantime.
  • Purchase a full single fare covering your entire journey.
  • Provide your name and address.
  • Make sure you are given a copy of the Penalty Fare Notice and that has the train company address on it.
  • Film the incident if you feel it is necessary for your own protection.


  • Contact the train company straight away to appeal the Penalty Fare.  Request CCTV to be retained.
  • Contact British Transport Police if you need evidence to support your case, e.g. CCTV.
  • If necessary, engage a solicitor to help appeal the case.


  • You are not a criminal if you were not trying to evade payment.
  • The conductor/RPO must show you their documentation & let you note details (PFR 5.4).
  • Penalty Fares cannot be charged if (PFR 7.3):
    • There were no (working) facilities at the station to purchase a ticket.
    • The station at which you boarded is not included in the Penalty Fare Scheme.
    • Someone appearing to be a member of staff, i.e. in uniform, tells you to board the train without a ticket.
    • Warning notices that it is a penalty fare area are not out on display.
  • The conductor must issue you with a written penalty fare notice that includes details of their identity, the Penalty Fare amount, the train company name + address for appeal/payment (PFR 8.3).
  • If in any doubt about the identity of the inspector or if you are concerned about their behaviour, contact British Transport Police on 0800 40 50 40 or text 61016.

N.B. PFR = 2002 Penalty Fare Rules