Do you have a valid ticket for your journey?
Revenue Protection Inspectors are regularly patrolling our network checking tickets. You must buy a valid ticket for your journey before getting on the train - it's the law.* If you don't, you risk prosecution and fines of up to £1,000.
It’s not only fair but it’s the law that everyone must have a valid ticket for their journey. As a not-for-profit organisation, Transport for Wales reinvests money from ticket revenues back into our network, helping to fund new trains and station improvements for our local communities.
Sadly, not everyone plays by the rules. So to protect our ticket revenue, we employ Transport Investigations Ltd (TIL) to manage our revenue protection process by providing teams of Revenue Protection Inspectors (RPI). They conduct ticket checks at stations and on trains and will either be in uniform or in plain clothes with identification.
Buy Before You Board
Like most train operators across the UK, we operate a Buy Before You Board policy.
- The policy is in line with the National Rail Conditions of Travel and Railway Byelaws 2005.
- Our Buy Before You Board requirements are set out in our Revenue Protection Policy.
When starting your journey at a station with ticket purchasing facilities available, it’s your responsibility to buy or activate a valid ticket for your journey before boarding the train.
If you fail to do so without an exceptional reason, not only could you miss out on lower-priced and discounted fares, you could also be liable for penalties or even prosecution, with fines of up to £1000. A penalty fare system is in operation for journeys between Shrewsbury and Birmingham International stations.
There are many ways to buy your ticket before you board
- From your local station booking office or self-service ticket machine
- From our website (we don’t charge any booking fees)
- Download our free TfW app then activate your ticket
- For regular travel – weekly, monthly or annual season tickets can offer great value
Details of ticket buying facilities, including ticket office opening hours and self-service ticket machines can be found here.
Our revenue protection process
You’ve been stopped by an RPI for travelling without a valid ticket - what happens next?
- The underlying principle of our Revenue Protection Policy is to protect passengers who make an innocent mistake from those who purposely travel without a valid ticket.
- We have a revenue protection process that’s designed to identify those who are regular offenders or those who have carried out deliberate acts of fraud.
Did you have an opportunity to buy a valid ticket?
- If you haven’t had an opportunity to buy a ticket during your journey, you’re still expected to pay for your journey as soon as possible when you arrive at your destination.
- If you refuse to buy a valid ticket, the next stage of the revenue protection process will be followed
- If you had an opportunity to buy a ticket during your journey or your mobile ticket has not been activated, our RPI will ask questions about why you don’t have a valid ticket for your journey. If you have a legitimate reason, no further action will be taken.
Failure to purchase notice
- If you do not have a legitimate reason or have refused to purchase a ticket, our RPI will record your name and address into our revenue protection database along with your explanation.
- Remember, offering false details is likely to result in criminal proceedings.
- Depending on the circumstances, our RPI will remind you about our Buy Before You Board policy and you may be issued with a Failure to Purchase Notice that requires you to pay your train fare – the full price ticket cost for your journey - via our online payment system. This payment will automatically be recorded against your name in our revenue protection database. Payment must be made within 21 days.
Penalty fare notice
- If you’re travelling within a penalty fare zone, currently between Shrewsbury and Birmingham International, you will be issued with a Penalty Fare Notice which must be paid in full or appealed against within 21 days. Failure to do so may result in additional administration charges or even prosecution.
- If our database alerts us that a previous Failure to Purchase notice has been issued, you may be issued with a Fixed Penalty Notice that can be paid via our online payment system. This payment will automatically be recorded against your name in our revenue protection database. You must make this payment within 21 days or face prosecution for fare evasion
Referred for prosecution
- Under certain circumstances such as recurring offences, default on outstanding charges or failure to provide correct details, an individual case assessment will take place which may result in being summonsed to a magistrates’ court for prosecution. Transport for Wales will press for the recovery of all fares owed plus a contribution towards administrative costs.
- There are certain circumstances where direct prosecution is most likely:
- attempted fraud
- giving false personal details
- knowingly claiming a shorter journey than actually travelled
- repeat offender – travelling without a valid ticket on more than one occasion.
- If the case assessment recommends that prosecution should be carried out, the case will be sent to Transport for Wales’ case review board for a final assessment.
- We’ll then notify you of the outcome of the final assessment and will always explain and clarify our decision in writing.
- You’ll then receive a court summons giving you the opportunity to present your case in court or to submit a written plea.
- Our process is in line with the Rail Delivery Group Code of Practice titled “Arrangements for Travel Ticket Irregularities” and the Transport Focus publication “Ticket to Ride”.
- Throughout the process, all personal details are processed in accordance with the General Data Protection Regulations 2018 (GDPR). In cases involving adults over the age of 18 years, we are not able to correspond with any third party unless that person is represented by a qualified lawyer.
Can I appeal against a decision?
- Transport Investigations Ltd encourages passengers to present any mitigating circumstances before deciding the next course of action and allow 21 days to respond.
- Should you be found guilty at a magistrates’ court, you may appeal in accordance with the law but you are advised to seek legal advice at your own cost.
Who do I contact with any questions?
- Please contact Transport Investigations Ltd in relation to an ongoing case in the revenue protection process.
- Transport Investigations Ltd, 1 Station Approach, March, PE15 8SJ
- Tel: 01354 606988
- If you remain dissatisfied with how your case has been processed, you can contact Transport for Wales directly via the Customer Relations department or escalate to the Rail Ombudsman.
Buy before you board FAQs
At the station
Can I board the train if the ticket office / Ticket Vending Machine (TVM) queue is too long?
- It is your responsibility to leave sufficient time to buy your ticket, taking into account that during Peak times (0700 – 0930 and 1530 – 1800) queues are likely to be longer. Queues can often be longer throughout the day on busy event days.
- If possible, try and plan to buy your ticket in advance of your journey and you can always buy a ticket the evening before at a TVM (from 1600) for a next day journey.
Can I jump straight on the train if it is at the station and about to leave?
- It is your responsibility to leave sufficient time to buy your ticket before the train departs. The train will not leave the station until it is scheduled to do so. The doors will close 40 seconds before departure.
Do I have to bother to buy a ticket if I’m only going one stop down the line?
- You must buy a valid ticket for your journey, whatever the length of your journey.
What happens if I can’t buy a ticket before I board due to my disability?
- If you have a disability that prevents you from buying a ticket before you board; then you may buy your ticket on the train. We’ll offer the appropriate fare for your journey and provide a discount if you qualify.
What if I have bought a discounted ticket with a Railcard in advance, but have forgotten the Railcard for my actual journey?
- If you are travelling on a ticket with a Railcard discount, you must have your valid Railcard with you to accompany your ticket. If you forget your Railcard, you must buy a new full price valid ticket for your journey before you board. If you’re unable to produce your railcard if stopped by our revenue protection team, you could be prosecuted.
- If you hold a valid Railcard, but have forgotten it when travelling, you can claim back the cost of any extra fare as long as it’s the first time you have claimed.
Why wouldn’t the conductor give me my Railcard discounts?
- If you have boarded the train from a station where ticket buying facilities are available, you will have to pay the full, un-discounted single or return fare for your journey (discounts, including Railcards, will not be available) when buying from a member of staff on the train.
Buying a ticket on the train
Why do you have guards/conductors on the train if they can’t sell me a ticket?
- The conductor is on the train for your safety and has many roles to carry out during the journey such as opening and closing the doors, providing customer service, checking tickets and making train announcements. It is a busy role and the guard would not have the time to sell tickets to everyone on the train as well as carrying out these duties.
- However, Conductors do have the capacity to sell tickets to customers who board from stations where ticket buying facilities are not available. When trains are busy, customers in need of a ticket may have to seek out the conductor on the train as it could be difficult for the conductor to get through.
What happens if I have a mobile ticket but my phone has run out of charge?
- It is your responsibility to ensure that your mobile phone has charge. Some of our newer trains have electric sockets for phone chargers.
Can my friend activate a mobile ticket for me to use?
- Yes, but you need to make sure you are travelling together for the whole of the journey.
Why do the conductors want to scan my ticket?
- Conductors will scan your e-ticket or mobile ticket to prevent the ticket being reused - similar to the conductor clipping a paper ticket. If you have an M-ticket in a mobile app you will need to activate it before you board so the barcode can be read.
How do I find out the opening times of my local booking office?
- Opening times should be advertised outside the booking office itself and can also be found online.
The booking office was closed when it was supposed to be open
- Sometimes for reasons beyond our control such as staff sickness, booking office opening times may need to change. Booking office closures are communicated in the station updates section of Journey Check. All stations with booking offices also have ticket vending machines.
Ticket Vending Machines
What if the Ticket Vending Machine was not working?
- TVM faults are reported to our control team and displayed in the stations updates section in Journey Check www.journeycheck.com/tfwrail and communicated to our conductor and revenue protection team. It is always a good idea to take a photo of the screen as evidence
I want to pay by cash but the Ticket Vending Machine at my station is card only
- Speak with a member of staff at the earliest opportunity and/or obtain a Promise 2 Pay to exchange for a ticket – You may then pay by cash without any additional charges.
What do I do if I want to renew my season ticket and there is no booking office available?
- If you have a photocard, you can buy a weekly Season Ticket from the ticket vending machine. If ticket buying facilities are not available at your departure station, buy a single for your destination from the ticket vending machine and then buy your Season Ticket at your destination station. The cost of your single ticket will be deducted from your Season Ticket. You must have a valid ticket for your journey before boarding the train.
What do I do if I’ve left my season ticket at home?
- You will need to buy a valid ticket for journey before boarding the train. You can then apply for a refund for the ticket at your local booking office. You may apply for a refund on two occasions in a year.
What if my plans change and I need to travel further than the destination on my ticket?
- We understand that plans can change. If they change before you start your journey, ensure that you buy an extension ticket for you journey before you board the train.
- If your situation changes once your journey has begun, advise the conductor at the earliest opportunity and buy an extension for your ticket or buy it via our TfW app.
- You may be prosecuted if it is proved that you purposefully had the intention to travel beyond the destination on your ticket, without paying the correct fare.
Revenue Protection Teams
Why do the Revenue Protection Teams always seem to be at my station?
- Revenue Protection teams operate around our whole network however we do use ticketless travel and revenue data to help target specific areas of concern.
Are the Revenue Protection Inspectors employed by Transport for Wales?
- Revenue Protection Inspectors are employed by Transport Investigations Ltd (TIL) with whom we work closely together in partnership to manage our Revenue Protection operations. All Revenue Protection Inspectors are fully trained by TIL in customer service and revenue protection legislation.
Do I have to give my personal contact details to the Revenue Protection Inspector?
- Yes. Your personal details will only be used for the purposes of following up your case if you have been unable to present a valid ticket upon request. It is a serious offence to provide false information and this will not help your case should it proceed to a prosecution.
What do I do if I’m not happy with how I was treated by the revenue protection team?
- You can contact our Customer Relations department either online or pick up a customer feedback form at your local booking office.