Guard on board the train checks a customer's ticket

Ticket checks and revenue protection

We're committed to putting you at the heart of everything we do. Our approach to protecting revenue is no different. Our aim is to provide easy to use retail facilities online and at stations and to have a highly visible revenue protection team that treats customers fairly and consistently and is an effective deterrent to people who might travel on our trains without buying the correct ticket.

We work round the clock to check tickets on stations and trains and have already reduced the amount of ticketless travel by over 40% since we took over the franchise in August 2017. This work includes:

  • Gatelines at key stations across the network to help prevent ticketless travel;
  • Ticket checks on trains and at stations by guards and the revenue protection team to make sure passengers have the right ticket for their journey.

Most of the time, staff will be in a recognisable uniform, but we also deploy staff in plain clothes to tackle fraudulent travel – all staff carry a South Western Railway ID, so you can be assured they are genuine.

Our first-line teams are also supported by a back-office team and part of their role is data analysis, which is increasingly helping us to better identify areas of concern and target resources accordingly.

If you see something you don’t think is right, you can let us know through our customer services team or on Twitter. If it is related to crime or a specific incident, you can also contact the British Transport Police discreetly by text to 61016.

Our Revenue Protection Policy

We have a revenue protection policy that tells you everything you need to know about how we minimise ticketless travel and fare evasion on our network and what the consequences of not buying a ticket before you board a train might be.

The full policy covers:

  • How we expect customers to buy their ticket before boarding a train, or at the first opportunity if facilities were not available;
  • What happens when you are asked to show a ticket and don’t have one, or don’t have the correct supporting information (e.g. photocard or railcard);
  • That we may prosecute serious or persistent offenders.

The purpose of our Revenue Protection Policy is to try to ensure that everyone pays the correct fare for their journey, and ensure that those who intentionally avoid, or attempt to avoid, their fare is dealt with appropriately. It is important to us to protect our fare paying customers.

It follows the National Rail Conditions of Travel when it comes to tickets and other guidelines for revenue protection. There’s information about what to expect from us, your responsibilities when you travel and what could happen if you don’t travel with a valid ticket. We have specially trained staff whose role is to reduce ticketless travel as well as investigating matters of fare evasion.

It is a legal requirement to buy a ticket before you board the train, if facilities are available to do so.

What this means for our customers

This policy applies both at stations and on-board our trains. We will make sure that all customers have a valid ticket for the journey they are making. We train all our employees to a high standard in customer service and we expect them to behave politely and with respect towards all our customers whatever the circumstances.

If you travel without a valid ticket

We have staff specially trained to deal with fare evasion and revenue protection, who can report customers to our Prosecutions department, if you are unable to show a valid ticket when asked. What happens next will depend on which member of staff asks to see your ticket.

If you’re stopped by a member of the Revenue Protection Team, they may:

  • Sell you a ticket (usually a full price Anytime ticket for your journey (with no discount))
  • Give you an Unpaid Fare Notice (UFN) or a Penalty Fare Notice (PFN)
  • Report you to our prosecutions department by way of MG11 – which could mean you have to go to court.

We take fare evasion seriously and when fare evasion occurs, we do prosecute.

If you’re stopped by a Guard whilst on our trains, they may

  • Excess your fare (this would normally be the difference between the fare you have paid and the new correct ticket price. However, an advance ticket cannot be excessed, and a new ticket will have to be purchased.)
  • Sell you a ticket (usually a full price Anytime ticket for your journey (with no discount))
  • give you an Unpaid Fare Notice (UFN)
  • Report you to our prosecutions department – which could mean you have to go to court

It is your responsibility to buy and collect tickets prior to travelling and you may find that discounts are not available when you try to buy your ticket on the train. Tickets need to be valid for the date and time of your journey and you are required to keep hold of them until you exit the station, so they can be inspected by Guards, Revenue Protection Staff or used in automatic ticket barriers.

If you have bought a ticket that has restrictions, and/or a Railcard discount, make sure that you stick to these restrictions and have your Railcard with you.

We also carry out unannounced ticket and barrier checks at stations on our routes to make sure no one is getting a free ride.

Lost and forgotten tickets

What if I could not purchase a ticket before boarding?
What if I don’t have my Railcard with me?
What if I have forgotten my season ticket or photocard?
What if I have a reservation and/or receipt but I’ve lost my ticket?

Unpaid Fare Notices

What is an Unpaid Fare Notice?
Do I need to pay it immediately?

Penalty Fare Notices

What is a Penalty Fare Notice?
Do I need to pay a Penalty Fare immediately?
Can I appeal a Penalty Fare Notice?

MG11s and prosecution

What is an MG11?
Will I be under arrest at this point and do you have the power to stop me from leaving?
What questions will I be asked, and do I have to answer them?
Can I settle out of court?
What happens if we go to court?
What's the maximum sentence I can receive if I'm found guilty?

Questions about staff conduct

What can I do if I feel I have not been treated politely and with respect?
What do I do if I am unhappy with the response to a complaint about revenue protection?

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