New 'penalty fares' of £20 for Leeds, Harrogate and Sheffield rail users with no ticket

Northern train.
Northern train.

Yorkshire rail users could face a "penalty fare" of £20 if found travelling without a ticket from the end of May, Northern has announced.

The train operator is getting ready to launch the latest phase of its campaign to "encourage all customers to buy their travel before they board".

By the end of May, customers travelling without a ticket on a Northern train on a number of select routes, including those in Leeds, Harrogate and Sheffield, could face the £20 "fine".

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Paul Barnfield, regional director for Northern, said: “The Penalty Fares are a natural extension of the Buy Before You Board Campaign we launched in 2016 and follow a successful trial on the Airedale and Wharfedale lines earlier this year.

“Sadly there is still a minority who believe they have a right to travel without buying a ticket. Their actions reduce the overall income of the rail industry and, as a result, reduces the money available to invest in further improvements to the railway.

“Everyone who travels by train should have a valid ticket or pass. Or must be able to demonstrate they have made every effort to buy a ticket before they boarded.

“If they are unable to do either of these then, from the end of May, our authorised collectors will be on hand at stations along the routes to either issue £20 fines or ask customers to pay double the cost of a single ticket to their destination, whichever is higher.”

The routes which will see penalty fares introduced are as follows:

- York to Manchester Victoria via Hebden Bridge

- Leeds to York via Harrogate

- Leeds to Sheffield via Moorthorpe

As part of Northern’s ongoing modernisation of the rail network, the company said "significant investment" has been made in introducing new ticket machines to give customers more choice and greater ease when buying their tickets.

Mr Barnfield added: “We have invested in new state-of-the-art ticket machines across our network to help customers purchase tickets. These machines will soon offer a full range of fares – including discounts.

“With online and mobile ticketing, as well as ticket offices at our staffed stations, there is really no reason for anyone to board a train without a valid ticket.

“For customers who want to pay by cash, our ticket machines will issue Promise to Pay notices which can be exchanged (along with a cash payment) for a ticket when on board the service or at the next available ticket office.”

Penalty Fares are currently used by other train operators.

The system, which Northern says has been in operation for more than 20 years, works to "a national set of rules which include signs and warning notices at stations".

There is also an appeals process which has been tried and tested by the industry.

Posters explaining penalty fares will be displayed at all stations on the new routes and leaflets will be handed out to provide further detail about the scheme.