Northern Rail Fixed Penalty Notice. PLEASE HELPWatch
On the 1st July 2021 I purchased a return ticket from Ulverston (my local station) to Manchester Piccadilly and back (e-ticket). My boyfriend ordered our tickets for us both through the trainline app. Without realising until we got to Manchester Piccadilly station, we had realised we had accidentally purchased myself a Child’s ticket when I am in fact 18 so should’ve got an adult ticket. None of the people at my local train station or the train conductors (the first train I got on) had questioned me about this at all so I had absolutely no idea I had the wrong ticket. I got stopped at Manchester Piccadilly, was asked what my date of birth was and this was when I realised I had the wrong ticket (my boyfriend had the right ticket so this was an obvious mistake). They then took my details and said I would receive a letter from Northern Rail regarding this ‘offence’, the man who was taking my details had stated to me that he was not giving me a fine but I would have to purchase the correct ticket for my return journey, and indeed this is what I did. A few weeks later I received a letter from Northern Rail saying ‘FIXED PENALTY NOTICE’ basically saying that the fixed penalty is £90 plus the payment owed for the fare which is £13.50, so this comes to a total of £103.50 which I supposedly have to pay. In this first letter they said they will give me the chance to write them a letter on the back of that letter explaining my situation, and so I did this explaining all the details saying it was a genuine and honest mistake. I sent off this letter asap hoping I would not be charged. I then received a second letter from Northern Rail today, basically saying i’m being fined the £103.50 and if I ‘fail to respond to this reasonable request within 14 days from the date of this letter will result in legal action being taken.’ I am only 18 and I barely have any money to my name, I rarely ever use trains as transport so this was an honest mistake and I really cannot afford this fine. I’m really upset and have no idea what to do. It seems as though they completely ignored the letter I sent them and just decided they want to get money out of me. I suffer with anxiety so this is not great for me. If anyone could lead me in the right direction please do because i’m lost. Thank you.
The best thing to do is to pay the fine -- do that and the issue is all cleared up. (Be aware, though, that the train company may well keep the incident on file, and if you get caught doing this again they may well go directly to prosecution.)
If it was your boyfriend that made this "mistake", then you might ask him to help you pay the fine. Otherwise, you'll need to get hold of the money from somewhere -- family or friends perhaps.
The alternative is that you choose to be prosecuted, with the attendant risk of getting a criminal record.
I know it feels like they "completely ignored the letter" -- but they probably spend all day every day reading letters that say "it was an honest mistake" and treat them with an appropriate degree of scepticism. (And the same will be true if you appear in front of a magistrate; they will undoubtedly have heard that line many times before as well.)