Make sure you have a valid ticket to avoid a Penalty Fare
Most people travel with a valid ticket for their journey, but for those that try to get away without paying their fare, there is a Penalty Fares system across the rail network.
About Penalty Fares
A Penalty Fare is an exceptional fare charged if you do not comply with the normal ticket purchasing rules without good reason. It is not a fine.
Penalty Fare cost
The penalty is £100 plus the price of the full single fare applicable for your intended journey. However, if it is paid within 21 days, the Penalty Fare is reduced to £50 plus the price of the single fare applicable.
The station where you leave the train will not necessarily be the end of your journey, as you may be asked to leave the train at any station by a Penalty Fares Collector.
If you want to travel further than the next station, you have 2 options. You can remain on the train and buy an Anytime single ticket for any station up to the final destination of the train – you will not be entitled to use any discount, such as a Railcard, for this ticket. Or you can get off the train and buy a ticket at the station for the remainder of your journey, using any relevant discounts.
Transport for London services have a different Penalty Fare system, please see the FAQs below.
Avoiding a Penalty Fare
If you have a valid ticket for your journey, don’t worry, you cannot get a Penalty Fare.
But if you travel on a train without a valid ticket, then you may be liable for a Penalty Fare. If you were not able to buy a ticket (for example, if the ticket office was closed or the ticket machine was broken), you must get a Permit to Travel or Promise to Pay at the station and exchange it for a ticket at the first opportunity. If you are unable to get a Permit to Travel or Promise to Pay, you can purchase a ticket on board (if available), or at the first opportunity.
How will I know if a Penalty Fare applies to my journey?
Penalty Fares apply if you are travelling from a Penalty Fare station or are in a Compulsory Ticket Area (CTA). Penalty Fare stations and Compulsory Ticket Areas should be clearly indicated as such by means of yellow warning posters at the entry points. Your train company will also be able to advise you.
What is the law regarding Penalty Fares?
Rail Delivery Group has also created the Penalty Fares Guidelines. These guidelines are non-statutory but are a useful interpretation of the Regulations. You can view and download the Penalty Fare Guidelines (PDF, 3.1MB) here.