ScotRail fare dodgers to pay £30 penalty under new crackdown

Passengers who falsely claim to have made a short journey will be hit with a new �30 charge. Picture: John Devlin
Passengers who falsely claim to have made a short journey will be hit with a new �30 charge. Picture: John Devlin
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Passengers who falsely claim they have travelled from a closer station than where they boarded will be hit by a penalty fee in the latest ScotRail drive to tackle fare dodging.

A new £30 “administration charge” will be levied on such people when attempting to buy a ticket at their destination station, The Scotsman has learned.

The move will be accompanied by a campaign to encourage passengers to buy tickets before they board trains.

Unlike some English train operators, ScotRail does not charge penalty fares for those who travel without tickets, although they may be charged the full fare rather than receive any off-peak discounts.

ScotRail said it was discussing measures to tackle “premeditated” fare evasion with the Scottish Government’s Transport Scotland agency.

Its spokeswoman said: “Any proposed additional charge would be applied only to those who, when challenged, continue to claim to have travelled from a closer station.

“Customers would be given every opportunity to confirm the journey they actually made, and a wide-ranging communications programme would be implemented to alert customers to the change.

“It’s a small minority of passengers who deliberately try to avoid paying the proper fare, but it’s honest, fare-paying passengers who bear the cost.

“We have implemented a number of measures to make it easier for customers to buy before boarding, and part of this strategy is to inform customers well in advance about our proposals to tackle deliberate fare evasion.

“We are now proposing that, where premeditated fare evasion can be proven, a new administration charge of £30 will be charged.”

Robert Samson, passenger manager for the Transport Focus watchdog, said: “Fare dodgers are in effect being subsidised by the vast majority of honest passengers.

“It’s right that ScotRail is trying to discourage and catch dishonest passengers. But they must make sure that they don’t scoop up those making an innocent mistake.”