Rail fares: guilty until proven innocent
Train companies treat their customers like criminals and the independent appeals service is nothing of the sort
Train ticket inspectors occupy a special position in English law. In a reverse of the normal “innocent until proved guilty”, you can be slapped with a penalty fare as you unsuccessfully fumble around trying to find your ticket or railcard. So an independent appeals process is crucial. Yet who owns and runs the Independent Penalty Fares Appeals Service? None other than Govia, the company that owns Southern and Southeastern trains. Maybe, just maybe, there’s a slight conflict of interest here.
Concerns about how train companies too often treat their customers as criminals was at the heart of a damning report by consumer group Passenger Focus this week. What is striking, it said, is “the sheer level of threat” it saw in letters from train companies, who will press for the “maximum penalty”. It quoted from a letter threatening a criminal record, a fine of up to £1,000, a prison sentence, a suspended sentence, community service, seizure of any computer equipment, and compensation. Forget your senior Railcard and the penalty can be worse than that for grievous bodily harm.
Source: Guardian Transport