Single mother is dragged to court over £85 fine for travelling with the wrong £5.40 train ticket - even though the proper one was the same price
Claire Long was slapped with the fine despite her friends just receiving formal warnings for the same offence
A SINGLE mum has been hauled before the courts after refusing to pay an £85 fine for having the wrong train ticket – despite buying one for the same price.
Claire Long, 40, had travelled from her home in Orrell, Lancs., but was unable to buy a ticket because there were no facilities available.
She instead bought one after arriving at Manchester Victoria but purchased it to Wigan Wallgate – one stop closer than her home station but the same price at £5.40.
But as she was going through the barriers, she was stopped by a ticket inspector who queried her and her group’s ticket purchase because she was travelling back to a station different to the one she started from.
Claire said: “We knew there would be no trains back to Orrell by the time we were coming back home, so we asked for returns to Wigan Wallgate.
“I explained everything to her but she said we were trying to defraud the train company.
“I have travelled that route so many times and I’ve never had this problem.”
One return ticket to Orrell cost exactly the same price as to Wigan Wallgate the time of the incident in February.
Four out of the eleven-strong group which Claire was travelling with were stopped for the same reason, and they all received letters in the post shortly afterwards.
Although one of her friends got a formal warning, Claire was slapped with an £85 fine which she disputed.
After not hearing a word from National Rail, Claire assumed the matter had been dropped but last week she was told she would have to appear in court over the unpaid fine.
Frustrated Claire said: “It’s ridiculous, it’s pathetic. I’m a single mum and this is just too costly.
“If I wanted to avoid a fare, I would have asked for a ticket from somewhere much closer and saved myself a lot of money.
“You just wonder what the criteria is to be fined, especially with me being the only one getting prosecuted when there were four of us stopped at the exact same time.”
She added: “I just feel they have too much power. It just seems like another way to make money.
“Fair enough, they might actually find some real fare dodgers, but proceeding with this when I haven’t done anything wrong is ridiculous.”
On its website, the rail firm states: “Northern Rail does not issue any fines instantaneously.
“Typically an ‘unpaid fares notice’ or a ‘fail to purchase notice’ will be issued granting the customer 21 days to remedy the payment of the fare only.
“In some instances an incident report will be created and further information will be requested before a final decision is made as to the outcome.”