Northern, which runs services on the Airedale and Wharfedale lines, has issued a warning to fare evaders across its network that the government’s new £100 penalty fare has now come into effect.
From Monday this week anyone caught travelling on-board one of the train operator’s 2,500 services a day without a valid ticket or ‘promise to pay’ notice will be issued with the penalty fare, which is reduced to £50 if paid within 21 days.
Since 2005, the penalty fare has been just £20 – but it was felt by the industry that that figure was too low and was no longer an effective deterrent to would-be fare evaders.
As part of the government’s public consultation, 69% of respondents agreed that the £20 penalty fare was too low.
Industry body, the Rail Delivery Group (RDG) estimates that every year around £240 million is lost through fare evasion on Great Britain’s railways.
Mark Powles, commercial and customer director at Northern, said: “The overwhelming majority of our customers – upwards of 95% - do the right thing and buy a ticket before they board one of our services.
“However, fare dodgers will find themselves having to dig deep if they continue to try and travel without buying a ticket. The £100 penalty fare is a government initiative that Northern and other train operators in England will begin to enforce from today.
“With more ways than ever before to buy a ticket – be it online, through an app, at a self-service machine or ticket office – there really is no excuse. It is, however, totally avoidable for everyone who travels responsibly on our network.”
Money raised through penalty fares issued by Northern will, in-line with other revenue income streams, be re-invested in the rail industry to improve the service offered to all customers.
The £100 penalty fare forms part of The Railways (Penalty Fares) (Amendment) Regulations 2022.
The increase in the penalty fare brings it in-line with penalty fares charged across much of Western Europe and by Transport for London (TfL) and Manchester’s Metrolink tram network.
Northern’s new timetable came into effect in December 2022 and all customers, especially those who have made regular journeys on specific train times, are advised to use the new 'Check My Timetable' feature on Northern’s website to see changes specific to their local station.