A penalty fares scheme works on the same principle as a ‘pay and display’ car park, where motorists may have to pay a penalty if they do not buy a ticket when they park. Where penalty fares apply, rail passengers must buy their tickets before they start their journey wherever there are facilities for them to do so. If a passenger gets on a train without a ticket at a station where ticket facilities are available, they will have to pay a penalty fare if asked to do so by a ticket inspector who has been appointed as an ‘authorised collector’.
The law as written in ‘The Railways (Penalty Fares) Regulations 2018’ states that an appeal body “must be managerially and organisationally independent of any operator and any affiliate of an operator”, basically this means that a rail operator cannot assess penalty fare appeals. As an independent appeals body, Penalty Services is therefore engaged by rail operators to hear appeals on their behalf.
A strict code of practice that is derived from the law, conditions of travel and rail operators penalty fares schemes is used to consistently assess appeals on behalf of rail passengers. No charge for this service is made to the passenger.
Penalty Services does not issue Penalty Fare Notices, this is the responsibility of the train operating companies and their agents. Whilst we can uphold appeals against Penalty Fare Notices we cannot directly cancel Penalty Fare Notices.
Penalty Services has no part in the debt recovery, payment or refund process and cannot process payments or refunds on behalf of any train operating company. We would normally advise that you contact the train company or their debt recovery agent who are responsible for this to address these issues.
Penalty Services does not employ the personnel who are licensed to issue penalty fares and we have no authority to handle any staff or service complaints. We would normally advise that you should contact the train company’s customer services team to address these issues.
Appeals must be made in writing online here:
Or by post to: Penalty Services Limited, 12 Deben Mill Business Centre, Old Maltings Approach, Melton Woodbridge, Suffolk IP12 1BL
If you wish to make an appeal for yourself, you can download an Appeal Form here. If you wish to make an appeal on behalf of someone else, you may download an Appeal Form here. You should explain why you were unable to produce a valid ticket or other authority to travel and provide any further information or evidence to support your explanation when appealing within 21 days beginning the day after you received your notice. The Assessor will not be able to obtain evidence or contact witnesses on your behalf so it is important that you include everything that you feel will help to support your appeal.
Please ensure you apply adequate postage to your letter as we do not pay excess postage fees and we will not receive your appeal.
Penalty Services will take up to 2 weeks but no longer than 3 weeks to investigate and respond to your appeal. When an appeal decision has been reached we will let you know by your preferred method (email or post).
Each penalty fare notice indicates the time available for appeal, 21 days from day after the date of the notice. Appeals received outside of the stated deadline cannot be considered without mitigating circumstances and in most cases the right to appeal is effectively forfeited.
If you have received a letter about an incident of which you know nothing, AND THE LETTER IS ADDRESSED TO YOU, then please phone the number shown on the letter. You may have to write to the company who sent the letter with evidence explaining the circumstances. It could be that an “imposter” has used your identity.
You should not open post that is not addressed to you, indeed you are breaking the law if you open someone else’s mail. You must return it to the Post Office by writing on the envelope “Not At This Address” and putting it unopened in any post box (No stamp required). If the person to whom the letter is addressed is known to you or you are aware of their correct or forwarding address then please also write on the reverse of the envelope the address that you believe to be correct for the person concerned.
You may not have been issued with a Penalty Fare. Train Companies operate a variety of other enforcement methods to report and deal with fare evasion. Our offices will not be able to help you if you do not have a notice reference number. You may contact the relevant Train Company customer services department by using the links provided on our home page.
If you have already made an appeal for your Penalty Fare Notice either online or by post, you can carry out an online check here by following the instructions on the page. Where an appeal is already in progress you will be shown details of the appeal and will be able to get more information on the status of your appeal.
Each Train Company publishes their Revenue Protection Policy on their own website. Check here and select the Train Company with which you travelled. Then navigate to their own website and search for “revenue protection” to show their policy.
If you have appealed and are unhappy with the outcome then you have the right to have your case re-heard by Penalty Services and you may submit a second appeal. If you are still unhappy with the outcome of your second appeal, you may lastly have your appeal heard by a 3rd stage independent appeal panel who’s decision is final. Please check the “How do I make an appeal?” section of the FAQ for making further appeals.
Our Assessors consider the facts and evidence presented and must come to a conclusion based on this information. If no further evidence over and above an earlier appeal for the same notice is presented, it is unlikely that the outcome will change. All cases are assessed in accordance with an approved assessment criteria ensuring all appeals are considered fairly and consistently.
The law as written in ‘The Railways (Penalty Fares) Regulations 2018’ allows for a 3rd stage appeal for penalty fares. The panel hearing 3rd stage appeals comprises of three decision makers who must be managerially and organisationally be independent of any operator and any affiliate of an operator and independent of the panels which considered the first and second stage appeals; that is to say they must not contain any person who was involved in the decision of the first and second stage appeals. Every decision maker must give a decision on the appeal. If the decision makers cannot reach a unanimous decision to allow, or not allow, an appeal the decision may be made by a majority of those decision makers.
The third stage appeals panel though independent of the first and second stage appeal body is able to use the administration capabilities of the first and second stage appeals body in order to access appeals data and correspond with appellants.
Penalty Services ensures that all appeals are fairly and consistently assessed in accordance with an approved assessment criteria. However, if you remain unhappy with the outcome of an appeal and you believe that Penalty Services has failed to process your appeal correctly then you may refer the matter to either Transport Focus or London Travel Watch as appropriate. Both act as independent statutory bodies to protect the interests of passengers. Although they are unable to overturn an appeal decision made by Penalty Services, they will consider whether Penalty Services have acted correctly in their handling of your appeal.
Our Data Protection page gives our Data Protection Statement and outlines all the information that we hold and how it is managed. All personal information held by Penalty Services is available to you online. To access this information and to check the status of your appeal go to the Make an Appeal page on our web site and follow the instructions to track an existing appeal.