In some ways, it makes perfect sense: train tickets are bloody expensive in the UK, and so you’d expect the penalties for evading fares to be just as astronomical. Right now, if you’re caught out without a ticket, you’ll usually face a £20 fine. But from January, this is set to soar to £100 – a kick in the teeth for many who will struggle to afford tickets as the cost-of-living crisis bites this winter.
Currently, passengers found without a ticket must pay either £20 or double the cost of a single fare to the next station – whichever is greater. Yesterday, however, Parliament passed a new batch of laws including the first rise in the penalty fare since 2005.
From January 23 the new £100 fine will be charged on top of a single fare for the passenger’s journey. It will be reduced to £50 if paid within 21 days. The Rail Delivery Group reckons evasion costs £240 million in lost fares each year. The aim of the rise is to recoup more of that money and for the steeper fines to act as more of a deterrent.
A Department for Transport spokesperson told the Evening Standard: ‘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.’ Who knows, maybe one day they’ll realise that the fares are the issue, not the cash-strapped passengers.