'Yes, you sir with a paper bag over your head and crouching in the corner of this first class compartment. Would you do me the honour of showing me your ticket?'
Travelling on a train without a ticket will probably earn you what is sweetly called a rail penalty fare. Alternatively, it might earn you a criminal prosecution. Ouch. The penalty fare is the more likely unless they've got you down as a regular non-payer.
The law is changing on penalty fares on 6 April 2018 in England, Wales and Scotland. Generally, all rail passenger services must follow it except TFL or any of its subsidiaries. The big change is that a streamlined three-staged appeals procedure will apply which is similar to that currently operated by TFL and will be independent of the train operator. The clock will stop for paying the penalty fare pending the result of the appeal. The operator will be banned from imposing a penalty fare if it has not complied with the requirements for the appeals machinery. And a passenger must not be charged a penalty fare if there were no facilities to buy a ticket at the station at which they boarded or the legal requirements for displaying warning notices about travelling ticketless have not been complied with.
One of the appeal grounds will be that there are 'compelling reasons' why the passenger should not be liable for the penalty fare.
The new law is to be found in the Railways (Penalty Fares) Regulations 2018 SI 2018/366. Take a look at them when the collector isn't around - or (politely) ask the collector to do so. Essential reading if you feel you have been wrongly or unfairly issued with a penalty fare ticket.
This blog will not be stopping here. Please mind the gaps in this post.