Guard on board the train checks a customer's ticket

Revenue Protection Policy

We operate a penalty fares scheme at all of our mainland stations. This means:

  • You are expected to buy a ticket before you board a train, or if you can’t, you must buy as soon as you can through seeking out staff or at your interchange station
  • We may issue a penalty fare if you do not have a valid ticket for your journey
  • When appropriate, we may prosecute you for persistent or serious breaches of our policy or the railway byelaws

A copy of the scheme is available for download and from Customer Services.

Buying your ticket

You can buy your ticket in advance on our website or from our app and at stations. On the day, you can buy a ticket for your journey from a ticket machine or office at the station you leave from, but please remember that it’s your responsibility to get to the station with plenty of time to buy your ticket.

If ticket facilities at your station are not working, you can get your ticket on the train from a Guard at the same price. On trains in the travelcard area where the Guard cannot sell you a ticket, you should buy one at the first opportunity, whether this be at an interchange station, or at your destination by approaching our staff there.

If you’re not sure what ticket is best for you, we provide a guide to buying the best ticket on our website, or you can speak to one of our retail staff.

Things to remember to avoid a penalty:

  • If you buy a ticket with a railcard giving you a discount you must remember to carry the railcard with you for the ticket to be valid; that the railcard is in date and to make sure you are travelling at the right time for the discount to apply (most railcards do not allow travel in the morning peak times for example)
  • If your ticket has restrictions to timings or routes, it’s your responsibility to stick to them or your ticket will not be valid

Our FAQ section has more information on tickets and refunds.

How we carry out revenue protection

We check tickets on stations and trains and work in uniform and in plain clothes. We are also sometimes supported by colleagues from other train companies or agencies. All staff carry identification and will show it to you if you ask them, so if you are asked to show your ticket, you’ll know they are genuine.

The checks we do

We carry out activities on stations and trains to check everyone has the right ticket for their journey, which may mean your ticket is checked more than once on a journey. We try to minimise any delays to customer journeys when doing these checks, but it does sometimes take a little longer for you to enter or exit the station, or to change trains. Please bear with us when this happens, as this is a vital part of our overall strategy to tackle fare evasion. Please also remember that you must show your ticket and give the right details if asked for you name and address – it’s against the law to refuse or give the wrong details.

Task Detailed description
Station Checks Covering all entrances or exits and checking all tickets in and out

Targeted activity at gated stations to tackle specific issues (e.g. Tailgating not having a valid railcard, or short tickets) - often done not in uniform wearing plain clothes

Checking all tickets of customers interchanging between trains or transport modes at certain stations
On train checks Checking every ticket on trains

The penalties we enforce

There are different courses of action we will take depending on the exact circumstances. These range from a simple warning, to full prosecution in a court of law.

Penalty Detailed Description
Penalty Fare warning If we sell you a ticket on a train that you could have bought before boarding a train, we may issue a warning to you to remind you of your obligations under our penalty fares scheme

We may also charge you the full price Anytime ticket for your journey (with no discount) regardless of the time of day
Unpaid Fares Notice (UFN)
We might give you a UFN if you travel without the right ticket, but can’t pay the right fare when we ask you to.
This could be because you’ve left your season ticket at home, lost your wallet, or been a victim of crime

If you receive a UFN, it will tell you: how to pay; how to appeal; and any specific timescales that apply
Penalty Fare Notice (PFN)
If you travel in a penalty fare area from a penalty fare station without buying a valid ticket, we may give you a PFN. This means you’ll have to pay £20 or twice the full single fare to the next station – whichever is more.

If you want to continue your journey after the next station, you’ll have to buy a full priced single ticket for the rest of your trip or get off at the station on your notice

If you receive a PFN, it will tell you: how to pay; how to appeal; and any specific timescales that apply
Prosecution If we believe you have tried to avoid paying the right fare for your journey we may interview you under caution and pass your details to our prosecutions department

This will be in line with the Police and Criminal Evidence Act (1984), the Regulation of Railways Act (1889) and the Railway Byelaws

This could result in going to court and a conviction

Useful links and information

If you need to pay your Penalty Fare or Unpaid Fare Notice, you can do so at IRCAS.

National Rail Enquiries provides an information page on Penalty Fares providing downloads for the national guidelines and regulations.

If you need to contact our Prosecutions Department, their details are:


Prosecutions Office Enquiries: 0330 0950 153

Enquiries via email:

For further advice you may wish to contact the independent transport watchdog Transport Focus. Users in the London area are also represented by London Travelwatch.

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Frequently Asked Questions

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In some circumstances, you may be able to get a refund on your ticket or season ticket.

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