The vast majority of train passengers understand that if they want to travel they need to have a valid ticket, but fare evasion still costs train companies an estimated £250 million a year. We’ll try to make it as straightforward as possible for you to get the correct ticket for your journey, as well as find the best value. But it’s not fair to paying customers if a few people intentionally avoid, or try to avoid, paying their way.

Our Revenue Protection Policy aims to ensure that every passenger who travels with South Western Railway holds a valid ticket for the journey. Our strategy for achieving this includes:

  • Continually reviewing the availability of ways to buy tickets and ticket gates at stations
  • Operating a penalty fares scheme
  • Prosecuting when appropriate

Your responsibilities

At stations that are staffed or have ticket machines, you must buy your ticket before boarding your train. It is your responsibility to make sure you arrive in time to do this. Remember that you can also buy tickets online or by phone – it is your responsibility to allow enough time for them to reach you by post or collect them before travelling.

If a station isn’t staffed or the ticket machines aren’t working, you must pay for your journey at your earliest opportunity, either on board or at the first available station. At a few stations there are Permit to Travel machines – if there is no ticket office or it is closed, you must use these, then exchange the permit for a valid ticket as soon as possible and within 2 hours.

Your ticket must be valid for the date and time of your journey. If you buy a ticket that has restrictions, you must stick to them. If you received a Railcard discount, you must have your Railcard with you.

If you’re travelling without a ticket or with one that isn’t valid, or if you fail to show the ticket and relevant Railcard on request:

  • You may need to pay for your journey again at the full price
  • You may have to pay an excess (the difference between the correct fare and what you’ve paid)
  • You may be liable to pay a penalty fare
  • You may be liable to prosecution
  • If you wish to continue your journey beyond the next station stop, you may be required to buy a full fare single or return ticket for the remainder of your journey

We’ll always aim to treat you fairly and take the appropriate course of action for the circumstances.

The penalty fare is £20 or twice the full single fare to the next station at which your train stops, whichever is greater.

An authorised penalty fare collector may require you to pay the minimum payment, which is the full single fare for your journey. If you are charged a penalty fare, you have 21 days to appeal or pay the balance.

If an authorised collector asks your name and address, it is a legal requirement that you give it. Failing to do this, or giving a false name or address, is a criminal offence.

Read our Penalty Fares policy in full.