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The Penalty Fares scheme is a mechanism to assist the Transport Industry in the daily battle against ticketless travel, which currently deprives the UK’s railway system alone of £200m every year.

Where Penalty Fares apply, rail or bus passengers must buy their tickets before they start their journey wherever there are facilities for them to do so. If a passenger gets on a train without a ticket at a station where ticket facilities are available a Penalty Fare may be issued.

A Penalty Fare Notice must be paid or appealed against within the stated time in order to avoid further costs or action being taken by the Transport Provider to recover the debt.

You can download a copy of the current Railways (Penalty Fares) Regulations 2018, the Penalty Fares Policy document or The Greater London Authority Act, 1999 by visiting our Document Library.

It is estimated that the UK rail network carries in excess of 750 million passengers each year. If only a small percentage of these rail users travel without paying the appropriate fare the loss of revenue is considerable.

The Transport Industry work in a number of different ways to combat ticketless travel. In addition to operating a penalty fares scheme, passengers can be issued with an Unpaid Fare Notice if they fail to pay the full appropriate fare or fail to produce a valid ticket when requested to do so by a representative. An Unpaid Fare Notice is not the same as a Penalty Fare Notice. Where the incident is considered to fall outside of the scope of the Railways (Penalty Fare) Regulations 2018. Unpaid Fare Notices are issued in accordance with the Transport Provider’s Policy & Procedures and/or the National Rail Conditions of Carriage.

An Unpaid Fare Notice must be paid or appealed against within the stated time in order to avoid further costs or action being taken by the Transport Provider to recover the debt.

For more information, download a copy of the current National Rail or TfL Conditions of Travel from our Document Library.

Ultimately, a Penalty Fare or Unpaid Fare Notice will be issued for many reasons and it is issued at the Inspector's discretion at that time. It is your responsibility as a passenger to ensure that valid documentation for travel can be presented upon request by a Rail Official. If valid documentation can not be produced then a notice may be issued.

A valid ticket must be presented when travelling. Clear advice and instruction in this respect is given at the point of ticket purchase. If you neglect to carry your valid ticket with you when travelling or, if you fail to collect a valid ticket prior to departure then you will be treated as having joined the service without a valid ticket regardless of any supporting evidence you present. To avoid potential fraudulent use, receipts, print-outs and booking reference numbers are not accepted for travel on their own and it is only the actual valid ticket that will be accepted.

Appeals must be put in writing and cannot be made by telephone or in person. Appeals can be made online from Make an Appeal by selecting the 'Make an Appeal' option. You may also download an appeal form for postal purposes.

You may upload documents to your appeal if using the website. Please ensure that you include all the details and evidence to support your appeal at the time of submitting. Please do not submit any further appeal information or supporting evidence via alternative routes.

You must ensure that you appeal within the deadline stated on your Penalty Notice. If an appeal is received within the deadline then the case will be placed on hold until an outcome has been reached. If, once the appeal has been assessed the balance remains outstanding, you will be notified that payment is due by your chosen method of communication.

Your Penalty Notice will indicate the length of time you have to submit an appeal from the date of issue. An appeal received outside of the stated deadline will not be considered without mitigating circumstances and in most cases the right to appeal will be forfeited.


Using our website and selecting the Make a Payment option. All major credit and debit cards are accepted.

By Phone

You can call our Automated Payment Line on 0870 067 1303 to pay your balance. Calls to our 0844 numbers cost 5p per minute (ppm), 0845 numbers cost 7ppm, 0871 numbers cost 10ppm and 0870 numbers cost 13ppm; all plus your network access charge(s). All major credit and debit cards accepted, excluding American Express.

By Post

Alternatively, you may post cheques or postal orders to IRCAS, PO Box 212, Petersfield GU32 9BQ. Please ensure that you make your Cheque or Postal Order payable to IRCAS and that you write your Penalty Notice reference number on the reverse. Please ensure that you keep the Postal Order receipt for reference. It is your responsibility to ensure that postal payments are received in time and to obtain proof of posting.

If you have received a letter addressed to you but you did not make the journey in question then you must contact the IRCAS Customer Services Team either online here or by post to PO Box 212, Petersfield GU32 9BQ. You may be asked to provide sufficient evidence to support your claim.

If you have received a letter addressed to an individual who is not known to you, please kindly return the letter to the address on the envelope ensuring that it is sealed. Please write a reason for your return on the envelope. Once your letter has been received in our office, the case will be handled accordingly.

The Appeals Service will issue a response to an appeal within 10 working days. If there is a requirement to pay a balance then the date by which this payment is required is clearly indicated in the appeal response.

Failure to make payment or to appeal further within the given time may result in the issue of a Reminder Letter by IRCAS to which an administration fee will be applied.

IRCAS, work on behalf of the Rail Operating Companies to administer letters when there is an outstanding balance. If a balance remains outstanding IRCAS may refer a case for external Debt Collection, or to the issuing company to consider for prosecution.

The Revenue Inspector is employed by the Train Operating Company and therefore, any complaint regarding their actions, or the issue of a Penalty Notice, must be directed to the company who issued the notice.