Our revenue protection policy

Tickets, please! 

Most people understand that if you want to travel you need to buy a ticket, but fare evasion still costs the rail industry an estimated £200 million a year.

With the help of your feedback we’re doing everything we can to stop people cheating fares. One of the key ways we’re doing this is by bringing criminal proceedings whenever we believe fare evasion amounts to deliberate fraud.

 

What you need to do

To travel on our trains you need to buy a ticket that’s valid for the date and time of your journey before you board. It’s your responsibility to buy and collect your ticket beforehand, and to carry it with you at all times so it can be inspected or used in an automatic ticket barrier. It’s no good hoping you can buy one from the guard or telling them ‘it’s definitely in your bag somewhere’. 

So if you want a smooth journey, you need to keep your ticket safe. After all it’s not just a ticket, it’s your receipt, and the only thing that gives you the right to travel.

 

It’s all there in black and white

When you purchase a ticket and travel with Virgin Trains East Coast, you’re agreeing to a legal contract with us that’s set out in The National Rail Conditions of Travel. It’s what makes sure everything is fair for passengers and train companies across the country. You can pick up a free copy from all our stations or from our Customer Solutions team. You can also download them from www.nationalrail.co.uk.

If travelling in breach of your ticket's terms and conditions – i.e. if you’re trying to travel with a ticket that isn’t valid – then you’ll be asked to purchase a new one or pay an excess fare. 

We suggest you read the terms and conditions of your ticket carefully before boarding the train, and check for any restrictions that may apply. It might not be your most fun pre-trip job, but it’s better than finding out too late. Take a look at details of all the ticket types available, along with their terms and conditions, and restrictions.

 

When it’s OK to travel without a ticket

If you do get on a train without a ticket, you’ll usually need to buy an Anytime single ticket for your journey from the guard. The only exceptions to this are:

  • If the ticket office is closed
  • If a self-service ticket machine that accepts cash isn’t working
  • If you are unable to access our ticket retail facilities as a result of a disability
  • If you’re entitled to concessionary fares without a Railcard, such as permanent wheelchair users

In these circumstances you can buy any ticket available on the train, on the day of travel, including any Railcard discounts that apply.

Travelling without a valid ticket

If you travel without a ticket, where none of the exceptions above apply, you will need to purchase a ticket at the full Standard or First Class single rate. You won’t be able to use a Railcard discount.

If you have a ticket, but it’s not valid for the journey, you will be requested to either pay an excess fare or purchase a new one (depending on the kind of ticket).

Below are examples of the kind of situations where you may be asked to pay an excess fare or purchase a new ticket.

  • You have an Advance ticket, but get on an alternative service to the one shown on your reservation coupon (or you don’t have the corresponding seat reservation needed to validate your ticket)
  • You’re traveling on a peak service with an Off-Peak or Super Off-Peak ticket
  • You have a ticket purchased with a Railcard discount but don’t have the valid Railcard with you (or you haven’t met the conditions of the Railcard)
  • You are in First Class accommodation but only have a Standard class ticket
  • You’re aged 16 years or older, but have a Child rate ticket
  • You’ve travelled beyond the destination of your ticket
  • Your ticket is valid with an alternative Train Operator

If you can’t pay the fare on the spot, an authorised member of staff (Train Guard, Revenue Protection staff, Station Platform staff) will issue you with an Unpaid Fare Notice (UFN).

Lost and forgotten tickets

When you have a reservation and receipt but you’ve lost your ticket

If you lose your train ticket and at the time of travel we can’t verify that you bought one, you have to buy a new one or else be issued with a UFN.

You then have 10 days to find your lost ticket and show it to us, otherwise you will need to pay your UFN.

When you lose or forget your reservation

If you have a copy of your booking confirmation and your travel ticket (and assuming the ticket is valid), you can still travel.

What is an Unpaid Fare Notice?

An Unpaid Fare Notice is issued to anyone who travels without a valid ticket and can’t pay for a new ticket or excess fare (whichever is applicable). They don’t require you to pay an extra charge, penalty or fine - just to pay a normal ticket price for that journey, because a valid ticket wasn’t presented.

In order to complete the Unpaid Fare Notice with details of your journey, an authorised member of staff will ask you for your name and address. In order to avoid administration fees being added (which are non-refundable), you need to pay the UFN within 21 days of the date of issue. If you refuse to provide your name and address, or give false details, you’re committing a criminal offence, which could lead to prosecution.

How to pay for an Unpaid Fare Notice

You have 21 days from the date of issue to pay your UFN in full to Revenue Protection Support Services (RPSS).

There are several different ways to pay:

  • Cheque or Postal Order – these should be made payable to Revenue Protection Support Services (RPSS), with your Unpaid Fare Notice reference number (six digit number prefixed with ECM) endorsed on the back. It should then be posted to:
    Revenue Protection Support Services (RPSS), PO Box 89, Portsmouth. PO1 1EG.
    Don’t forget to leave enough time for the payment to reach RPSS within the 21 days.
  • By Credit/Debit card over the phone - Telephone 0871 559 2997 within 21 days from the date of issue (please note RPSS do not accept American Express or Diners Card)
  • Online – you can make an online payment with your credit/debit card too
    If you want to pay online, you’ll need the notice number printed on the Unpaid Fare Notice (six digits prefixed with ECM) to hand. If this method is unavailable, use one of the other payment methods instead.

What happens if you don't pay within 21 Days?

If RPSS don’t receive your payment within 21 days of issue, they will start a debt recovery process. If this happens non-refundable administration charges will be added to the outstanding amount.

When this happens, if the debt isn’t paid, legal proceedings could be brought against you as part of the Railway Byelaws and the Regulation of Railways Act 1889, Section 5.3(a). The decision to prosecute is always based on the merits of each individual case. 

How to appeal

If you want to appeal against your Unpaid Fare Notice you need to do this within 21 days of it being issued. You need to make your appeal in writing, and include the following information:

  • A copy of the Unpaid Fare Notice
  • The reason why you couldn’t produce a valid ticket or authority to travel
  • The station where you started your rail journey
  • The exact date and time you were travelling
  • Any other relevant information or documents such as tickets and booking confirmations

You then need to send your letter to:

Revenue Protection Support Services (RPSS) PO Box 89, Portsmouth, PO1 1EG.

It’s an independent service and they will consider your appeal based on the facts of the case. Even if you appeal you still need to pay the amount you owe within 21 days. If you don’t, you will incur non-refundable administration fees.

What to do if your appeal with RPSS isn’t successful

If your appeal isn’t successful and you want to appeal further, you’ll need to contact Transport Focus. They are an independent ombudsman who will liaise directly with Virgin Trains East Coast Main Line Company Limited to make a final decision.

 

You can write to them here:

Freepost RTEH-XAGE-BYKZ

Transport Focus

PO Box 5594

Southend on Sea

SS1 9PZ

Email: advice@transportfocus.org.uk

Tel:  03001 232 350

What to do if your appeal with Transport Focus is not successful

Unfortunately, if your appeal to the ombudsman isn’t successful, this is our final decision. If you’re still unhappy, you may wish to seek legal advice.