The UK Department for Transport (DfT) is intending to impose changes to the way rail companies operate their penalty fare appeals processes in an attempt to protect passengers.
The department stated that penalty fares appeals bodies should be completely independent of train operating companies and their financial owners.
DfT is planning to introduce an independent appeals panel to head-up a new third stage to the appeals process to boost confidence in the new fare system.
UK Rail Minister Paul Maynard said: “Fare dodgers cost the railways £240m every year and this bill is picked up by honest passengers in the form of higher rail fares.
“Penalty fares are imposed to deter those seeking a free ride but mistakes do happen and where a passenger feels they have been unfairly treated, they need to be confident that there is a robust and independent process in place to deal with their appeal.”
Set to go before Parliament next year, the new rules are being proposed following a public consultation on issues raised by Transport Focus in its report that requested more passenger-friendly deadlines for appeals and payments.
The report also called for compulsory annual audits of the penalty fares data and putting an end to unnecessary threats of criminal action at the time of sending out reminder letters.
Furthermore, the DfT and rail industry will work together to make sure passengers understand how the penalty fares protocol works to avoid warnings of criminal sanctions that are not being made properly.