In February 2018, our son was travelling home from London, towards home at Harold Wood. He touched in at Liverpool Street in order to catch a TfL rail service. On the day in question, there were delays to the TfL service, and so he (along with others) took a Greater Anglia service to Shenfield, with the intention of catching a TfL rail service back to Harold Wood. When he got off at Harold Wood, he was stopped by a TfL Revenue Protection Inspector, who checked his Oyster card and informed him that he should have touched out and touched back in again at Shenfield, and by not doing so had avoided paying a £4.60 fare.
Even after sending TfL an apology in which he stated that he was not aware of the need to touch in and out at Shenfield, he was charged with a criminal offence, and told that TfL would seek a £225 contribution, plus the £4.60 fare which had been avoided. Most alarmingly, he would receive a criminal record.
We sought legal advice from a solicitor specialising in fare evasion cases and, after some anxious weeks, heard that the charge would be reduced to a caution, and that no fine would be payable.
I know that many passengers make the same journey as this on a regular basis – you can see them alighting at Brentwood and Harold Wood. TfL are being criticised for being overly hard on fare evasion, even when it is done inadvertently. We are concerned that many people wouldn’t be able to afford the cost of having a solicitor intervene for them, so be warned!