Enforce train ticket checks to crackdown on pay dodgers: MPs urge

Train operators have been warned to implement proper ticket checks to crackdown on passengers travelling without paying a fare.

Transport minister Andrew Stephenson told MPs he is committed to ensuring a lack of onboard ticket inspections and unused ticket barriers “doesn’t continue to happen”.

His pledge came after Conservative MP Martin Vickers (Cleethorpes) shared his recent experiences and claimed taxpayers are being “taken for a ride” by rail firms.

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Speaking at transport questions in the Commons, Mr Vickers said: “The cost of rail travel could be reduced by maximising the income of the rail companies.

“On three of the four journeys I took last week there was no ticket inspection on the trains and none of the barriers were operational.

“Bearing in mind the support given by the taxpayer to the rail network, it’s not just the passengers that are being taken for a ride, it’s the taxpayer.

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“What is the minister going to do to ensure that LNER, TransPennine and Grand Central – who were the guilty parties last week – actually maximise their income and reduce travel costs?”

Mr Stephenson replied: “You make a very powerful point and revenue protection is incredibly important for all train operating companies.

“Of course, taxpayers have put over £16 billion into our railways during the course of the pandemic and therefore we need to continue to ensure that all operators are doing everything they can to maximise their revenues.

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“And I’d be interested to get some more details off him about his experience but also from other members across the House, as I know the rail minister and I are really committed to ensuring that what he has witnessed doesn’t continue to happen.”

A spokesperson for Grand Central said: “Grand Central is an open access operator, which means we don’t receive any government or taxpayer subsidy.”

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Sam Hewitt