On guard! Train staff can reduce fare evasion with checks says commuter

A TRAIN commuter has offered his solution to a new campaign aimed at reducing the number of fare dodgers using Northern trains – get guards to check tickets!

Northern say there were 8,300 court prosecutions in 2020 for people trying to avoid paying for their travel.

The current initiative is designed to ensure travellers buy their tickets before they board the trains.

However, a former Delph resident, now living in Marsden, says there is a more straightforward answer.A regular user of the line from Marsden through Greenfield and Mossley to Stalybridge, he is frustrated by the lack of intervention by train guards.

He told the Independent: “I would like to offer a possible solution to the fare dodging. This would be to get the guards on the train to simply check tickets.

“I expect this would then make passengers more likely to actually buy a ticket if they thought that checking was likely to occur.

“This happens rarely to say the least to the extent I always thank the occasional guard who actually performs what I believe to be one of their core responsibilities on the train and highlight the problem to them.

“I find it frustrating I purchase a ticket for every journey while it is clear many do not.

“I’ve only had my ticket checked once in all the journeys I have undertaken on that route.

“Additionally, in the last month I have travelled twice between Manchester Piccadilly and Gatley, a route run by the Northern franchise and did not have my ticket checked on any part of the journey.

“I have used the line between Marsden and Stalybridge practically every day in the last three weeks, at various times during the day; often in the quiet period in the afternoons.

“But I have only had my ticket checked on two occasions during that time, of which one of them was on exit at Stalybridge station.

“I do recognise that checking tickets was probably, and understandably, suspended during various lockdown situations due to the Covid pandemic. But it seems that the guards have clearly got out of the habit!

“Mine is a simple and cost-free solution to the fare dodging problem and would surely increase revenue at your company.

“Additionally, regular movement up and down the train may also prevent incidences of anti-social behaviour and make travellers feel more secure on their journey.”

Jason Wade, Head of Retail Operations at Northern, said: “There are plenty of ways for our customers to buy tickets and we’ve made big improvements to our website, app and ticket machines in recent months.

“There are still some, however, who think they can travel without paying and we are doing all we can to tackle this small minority who think they are above the law.

“We have penalty fares in place across most routes of the Northern network which can see those who do not have valid tickets issued with on-the-spot fines.”

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