Rail passengers caught travelling without a valid ticket on trains in England will face a fine of £100 from early next year – a fivefold increase from the current level.
The Department for Transport (DfT) said the fines were being increased for the first time since 2005 because they no longer acted as a deterrent against fare dodging.
The penalty will be issued on top of the price of a standard ticket for the passenger’s journey. Fines will be reduced to £50 if paid within 21 days.
The current penalty for passengers who get the train without a valid ticket is £20, or twice the ticket price to the next train station, depending on which is higher. The new change will apply across England from 23 January.
Fare evasion is estimated to cost taxpayers about £240m a year. The DfT said the crackdown would reduce the cost to taxpayers “who are currently footing the bill of those passengers travelling without a ticket” and help fund a more sustainable and modernised service.
The new fine will bring the national penalty into line with fines on transport services across the country. People caught without a ticket on Transport for London (TfL) services are fined £80, and those on Manchester Metrolink have to pay £100.
A DfT spokesperson said: “By acting as an effective deterrent, more revenue will be generated by the railway, which can be re-invested to improve the quality of passenger services.”
Rail bosses are grappling with strike action and how to increase revenues after taking a hit from the Covid crisis. Passenger numbers have not reached pre-pandemic levels as more people adopt hybrid working and fewer commute.
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More than 332m rail passenger journeys were made in Britain in the three months to the end of June, according to the Office of Rail and Road.