FoWS applauds Northern Rail’s efforts to cut down on the fare-dodging that was endemic when they took over the regional franchise, and have no truck with passengers who deliberately seek to avoid paying their way.
However, the approach has been a infuriatingly inconsistent (no barrier checks at Oxford Road on a summer Sunday afternoon … really ?!) and press stories about heavy-handed treatment of people making innocent mistakes appear with worrying frequency. The afternoon/evening peak rules that were introduced last year are a classic example of fare rules so complex even some ticket office staff admitted they couldn’t understand them, so what hope infrequent passengers ?
Should you find yourself in the unfortunate position of being unfairly accused of fare evasion it may be worth noting that newspapers’ “Consumer Champions” sometimes have more success at challenging Northern Rail than individuals, as demonstrated by this story about a traveller from Bolton in last weekend’s Guardian threatened with a criminal record for a 70p short fare.