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Thousands of fare dodgers entitled to refund after mistake by train companies | UK News



Fare dodgers could be entitled to a refund after train companies overcharged thousands of travellers when handing out fines.

A new rule brought in last year reduced the punishment depending on the time of the journey, but eight companies failed to apply the change.

As many as 10,000 passengers may have been fined too much.

About of half of those overcharged will be issued refunds, but in many cases the fare dodgers’ full details were not taken.

Posters will be put up in stations to alert anyone who thinks that may be due a refund to get in touch with their train company.

The operators affected are: Chiltern Railways, Govia Thameslink Railway, Great Western Railway, Greater Anglia, Northern, Southeastern, South Western Railway and London Northwestern.

About 1,500 Southeastern passengers were overcharged by an average of £8.

London Northwestern Railway estimates it overcharged 2,700 people by £12,000 – £4.44 per person.

Great Western Railway says the average refund is £6 and that it has posted cheques to those affected.

Penalties are handed out if passengers are caught without a ticket; people travelling on a cheaper fare and unable to produce the relevant railcard; travelling in first class with a standard ticket; or staying on past the station named on the ticket.

The fine is £20 or twice the appropriate single fare, whichever is higher.

The mistake happened because industry body the Rail Delivery Group (RDG) failed to properly set out the updated rules, which meant they were ignored by some operators.

RDG said it had carried out an investigation and will make sure staff are trained properly.

An RDG spokesman said: “When people haven’t paid to travel, it’s important for train companies to take a firm but fair approach because fare dodging denies the railway around £200m a year which could otherwise be invested to improve services for all passengers.

“People who have been charged a penalty fare shouldn’t be overcharged, though.

“We have investigated this issue and will ensure that staff have the right advice and people affected are reimbursed quickly and easily.”

David Sidebottom, director of watchdog Transport Focus, said: “Passengers will want urgent answers as to why this error occurred and assurances from the rail industry that it is being investigated and fixed immediately.

“Train companies need to do everything possible to demonstrate that they have a clear plan to get things back on track, provide train staff with the correct advice to avoid this happening again and make sure passengers aren’t out of pocket.”

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