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Fare dodger crackdown: over £400K recovered from nearly 4000 cases across the Chiltern network

Rail operator Chiltern Railways has recovered over £400,000 of lost revenue from 3984 cases of fare evasion on the network over the last twelve months.  

Fare evasion means there’s less money available to improve the railways for everyone, and Chiltern has a responsibility to strongly pursue those who don’t buy a ticket before they board with the intention of not paying a valid fare.  

Across nearly 4000 cases, common instances of not having a valid ticket for travel included adults carrying child tickets or misusing railcards. Some cases also involved ‘short-faring’, where tickets are only purchased for a shorter leg of the trip to avoid paying for a full journey.  

Fare evasion is a criminal offence, meaning that some of these cases have gone to court and resulted in criminal convictions and significant court costs. 

The highest single case of revenue collection over the past twelve months was a staggering £15,000. After a thorough investigation by Chiltern Railways, a settlement was reached with a customer who bought short tickets over 350 times.  

To crackdown on would-be fare dodgers, Chiltern has launched its ‘Buy Before you Board’ campaign, with posters present at stations and vinyl floor signage before ticket gates, reminding customers that travelling without a valid ticket is a criminal offence.  

The operator has also recently purchased new scanning equipment for ticket barriers that gives more information about whether a journey was bought with a railcard.  

Railcard misuse is an increasing issue, and the new equipment allows station teams to check the existence and validity of railcards before customers exit the station.  

It is expected that this equipment will mean more revenue is recovered to reinvest in the railway in conjunction with the Buy Before you Board campaign and an increased visibility of revenue protection teams across the Chiltern network. 

In January 2023, following a national consultation by the Department for Transport, an increased penalty fare of £100 was introduced across the country’s rail network.  

Customers can always purchase tickets on the Chiltern Railways website or app ahead of travelling, as well as at stations. For further information on the Buy Before you Board campaign, customers can visit https://www.chilternrailways.co.uk/buybeforeyouboard.  

Tony Baxter, Operations Director at Chiltern Railways, said: 

“We have done some excellent work over the past twelve months recovering money from those who don’t buy valid tickets for our trains, but we know that there is still more to do.  

“Our new campaign and ticket scanners will increase public awareness of our work in combatting fare evasion, while also deterring would-be fare dodgers from taking money out of the system. We are also increasing the number and visibility of our mobile revenue protection teams, meaning customers will see more Chiltern staff checking tickets. 

“Fare evasion is a criminal offence and means there’s less money available to improve the railway for paying customers. We know that the vast majority of customers board with a valid ticket, but we are committed to strongly pursuing those who don’t.” 

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Notes to editors

  • Chiltern Railways is part of the Arriva group, one of the leading providers of passenger transport in Europe,  employing around 38,000 people and delivering around 1.5 billion passenger journeys across 10 European countries. 
  • Chiltern operates commuter/regional rail passenger services from its Central London terminus at London Marylebone along the M40 corridor to destinations in Buckinghamshire, Oxfordshire and Warwickshire, as well as long-distance services to the West Midlands along two routes. Services on the Chiltern Main Line run from London Marylebone to Birmingham Snow Hill, Stratford-upon-Avon and Oxford, with some peak-hour services to Stourbridge Junction.
  • Chiltern also runs trains on the London to Aylesbury Line to Aylesbury (with some trains terminating at Aylesbury Vale Parkway instead), on the Princes Risborough to Aylesbury and Oxford to Bicester branch lines.