Penalty fares

When travelling on public transport, you must ensure that you have a valid ticket. 

A penalty fare can be issued if you:

  • travel without a valid ticket in all fares zones
  • travel with an incorrect ticket in all fare zonesPenalty Fares Warning
  • travel in first class with a standard class ticket
  • travel on a child rate ticket when you are overage
  • travel beyond the destination stated on your ticket
  • trespass on a National Rail or Transport for London (TfL) service
  • do not correctly validate an uploaded or capped season ticket
  • do not correctly validate a Pay As You Go Oyster card or contactless payment card
  • cannot show a ticket or validated Oyster or contactless payment on demand

In some cases, an unpaid fares notice may be issued and if you have travelled beyond the validity of your ticket you may be required to pay the excess fare.

There are different appeal processes and stages to manage penalty fares, depending on which transport operating company you were travelling with when you received the notice. The information needed to appeal or pay a penalty fare is printed on the penalty fare notice itself.  Therefore, please ensure you keep it and read it carefully.

Appealing against a Penalty Fare

To ensure that the process is unbiased, all first stage penalty fare appeals are sent to an appeals body which is independent of and separate from the transport provider (with the exception of Tramlink). Please do not send your appeal to the rail operator or TfL at this stage.

If you think you have been issued with a penalty unfairly, you can appeal in the first instance to Penalty Services Ltd, the Appeals Service or Tramlink. There is a strict time limit for when your appeal can be received.

If you pay the penalty fare at the time of issue and your appeal is upheld then your penalty fare will be refunded to you.

Regardless of which type of penalty fare method is used, administration charges will be added if you do not adhere to the specified timescales. You could, therefore, find yourself having to pay much more than the initial penalty fare. Paying the penalty fare on time will also prevent any further action, such as debt collection or prosecution for non payment, being taken.

Penalty fare appeals processes

There are three stages in the penalty fare appeal process. If the timeline allowed is strictly adhered to, you can access all three stages and the penalty fare will not increase in this time.

The process is different depending on who issued the penalty fare so please read all documents carefully.


Where a rail operator and Transport for London (TfL) believe that you have deliberately evaded paying your fare, refused to accept the penalty fare, or do not have the means to pay the single fare, you can be prosecuted for fare evasion. The methods of processing prosecution cases can differ depending on which rail company or type of transport you were travelling on. It is therefore important to follow the advice provided.

London TravelWatch is not part of the penalty fare or prosecution appeal process and we cannot change the decision made by the appeals body. However, if you have concerns about the way your appeal has been handled, please contact us.

If your penalty fare appeal is upheld and you still believe it is unfair, contact London TravelWatch and we will review your concerns