Northern Ireland

Fare dodger 'used train ticket as toilet paper'

Train in Belfast
Image caption Translink have revealed the top excuses for not paying train fares

A passenger on a train in Northern Ireland gave what has been judged one of the most outrageous excuses for fare evasion.

"There was no toilet paper in your toilet, so I had to use the ticket," the passenger said.

The excuse was one of train operator Translink's top excuses for fare dodging, the company said.

Others included: "I'm a part-time police officer, so I don't have to pay."

Last year, 22 passengers were fined £2,508 for ticketing irregularities.

In addition, 70 penalty fares were issued for fare evasion, resulting in fines totalling £1,579.40

Other excuses included:

  • My uncle is the line manager here (said to the line manager)
  • I bought a ticket earlier, but I've lost it
  • I didn't hear the conductor asking if I needed a ticket; I was asleep/had my headphone on/was looking out the window
  • You are a public service and I paid my taxes, now you are looking for more money
  • My brother is a solicitor and you will be in big trouble
  • I thought it was still 2011. (Student with out-of-date card)
  • I just bought this ticket before I got on the train, your machines must be wrong (Customer with out-of-date ticket)
  • My mum/dad have paid for my ticket at the other end
  • I am only travelling one stop

All the passengers who used such excuses were issued with an on-the-spot fine and/or prosecuted for fare evasion.

Hilton Parr of Translink said: "We've really heard every excuse under the sun from passengers for attempting to travel without paying.

"The majority of our customers are honest and pay the correct fare and, as such, it is only right that we take a tough line with those who try to fare dodge.

"The point I would make is that no matter who you are, if you want to travel on our services, you have to pay."

The average fine issued to fare evaders in 2012 was £20 plus the value of the ticket for the distance they travelled.

If the passenger does not pay on the spot and is unable to produce ID, the police may be called.

Non-payment of the penalty may result in a court appearance plus a fine of up to £1,000.

Anyone caught and prosecuted will have a criminal record which could prevent them visiting countries like the US and Australia.

Ms Parr said: "Some passengers probably take a chance to see if they can get away without paying, just to save a few pounds, but having a criminal record for an offence like fare evasion could seriously damage their long term future and ruin plans to work or even just travel abroad."