Northern announce new penalty fare routes

Northern trains refurbishment
Credit: Northern

Northern has announced five new routes on which penalty fares are to be introduced.

Penalty fares are in place to discourage people from travelling on trains without first paying for their tickets and will be implemented on a number of new routes from the end of June.

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.

Having been in place across the UK rail network for many years, a trial was introduced to Northern’s routes in West Yorkshire. Even some customers who were skeptical about the trial praised the way that it was introduced and was received well by all customers. Following this trial, penalty fares were rolled out more widely across the Northern network.

Now Northern has announced new routes which are set to ‘go live’ on Sunday 30 June.

The routes to be introduced are Navigation Road to Chester, Lancaster to Windemere, Barrow to Lancaster (Furness Line), Barrow to Carlisle (Cumbrian Coast) and South Milford to Hull.

Stations on penalty fare routes will have either ticket offices or ticket vending machines so customers will have the opportunity to purchase tickets before they travel.

In addition, tickets can be bought at any time before a customer boards a train by using the Northern website or mobile 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 with the full range of fares will still 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.

They are investing millions of pounds to introduce more than 600 new ticket machines across the network and have developed their 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 their authorised collectors are able to use their discretion to make sure that 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.

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  1. I travel daily via train in West Yorkshire and I’ve never seen a penalty fare implemented once. The conductor always accepts any excuse and sells a standard ticket. People just board without tickets knowing they probably won’t get checked and if they do they only have to pay what they should have spent anyway.
    Unless it’s a route where they exit through a station with barriers fare dodging is still rife.

  2. The discounted duo return fare is not available on the app or machines. This must be a valid reason for buying a ticket on the train.

  3. Well I tried to buy a ticket at the weekend and the Northern ticket machine only offered more expensive fares and not the less expensive Transpennine. Luckily I managed to book online via LNER app and collect the cheaper ticket. 5 mins before train due. Are they supposed to offer all fares?

  4. Seems to me to be an excuse for discrimination – elderly white lady will be sold a ticket, young non-white male will be penalised. My own experience of introduction is not that it has been well received, more that staff haven’t enforced it, so no negative reaction.

    • Not sure why you say that. The agency Northern are using to provide revenue teams seems to employ a very large proportion of black and Asian inspectors.

  5. I think the idea that penalty fares have been well received is somewhat naive. In my experience, they haven’t been enforced, and so invisible.

  6. I’d still think that Northern hasn’t done enough to help passengers since they caused misery with so many strikes few years ago. Same goes with other rail operators including South Western Railway who have caused misery to passengers as there was long queues at some stations in Southwest London yesterday.

  7. “Stations on penalty fare routes will have either ticket offices or ticket vending machines so customers will have the opportunity to purchase tickets before they travel.”

    This is incorrect as Northern did not install any ticket machines at Mobberley or Lostock Gralam before penalty fares on the Chester line going live. And yes people boarding at those stations have already been wrongly fined


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