Penalty fines will be introduced by Northern on several new routes across the North West to stop people travelling without a ticket.
The penalties, which will be £20 fines or double the cost of a single fare (whichever is the greater), will be enforced at destination stations by Northern’s authorised collectors from next week.
Penalty fares have been in place across the UK rail network for many years and were introduced to Northern’s routes earlier this year with a trial in West Yorkshire. That trial was well received by customers and even some who were originally sceptical praised the way in which it was been introduced and managed. Following the trial penalty fares were rolled out more widely.
Now Northern has announced new routes which are set to ‘go live’ at the end of the month.
The routes to be introduced are:
*Blackpool stations – Liverpool (via Preston, Wigan and St Helens)
*Preston – Manchester (via Buckshaw Parkway, Bolton and Salford)
*Wigan Wallgate – Manchester (via Hag Fold and Swinton)
*Manchester – Leeds (via Ashton under Lyne and Huddersfield)
*Sheffield – Lincoln
Most stations on penalty fare routes will have either ticket offices or ticket vending machines and so customers will have the opportunity to purchase tickets before they travel.
READ MORE: Ministers told to get a grip of Northern rail services
In addition, tickets may be bought at any time before a customer boards a train by using the Northern App, with no booking fees incurred.
If these facilities are not available at stations, or if offices are closed or machines out of order, customers will still be able to buy a ticket from the on-board conductor.
Where customers want to pay cash, but ticket machines are card only, they will be able to obtain ‘promise to pay’ notices from the machines which can be presented, along with cash to the conductor – the full range of fares will still be available on board.
If customers board from stations with ticket machines or staffed ticket offices, but do not have a valid ticket, they will only be eligible for standard fares if buying from the conductor. If a customer chooses to do this, they may be issued with a Penalty Fare if an authorised collector is encountered.
A spokesman said: "We are investing millions of pounds to introduce more than 600 new ticket machines across the network and have developed our website and mobile app to give customers more options and to make buying a ticket easier than ever before.
"However, there will still be some circumstances in which customers are unable to buy tickets and our authorised collectors are able to use their discretion to ensure no-one faces unfair penalties.
"Where customers do feel a penalty fare has been applied wrongly there is a tried and tested, independent appeals process which is used across the country."
READ MORE: Compensation boost for Northern rail passengers
Arriva Rail North Limited operates the Northern franchise which has come under increasing pressure after a timetable overhaul implemented during the summer crippled services for tens of thousands of Northern rail passengers, with further concerns raised over the future of work to electrify the Manchester to Leeds route.
Earlier this month, Transport Secretary Chris Grayling faced fresh demands to improve "appalling" rail services in northern England, amid warnings that more commuters are giving up travelling by train.
Northern is the second largest train operator in the UK and it will run regional and commuter services across the north until March 2025.