Recently, Iarnród Éireann have got tough on fare evasion for the first time. A zero tolerance policy on fare evasion is to be welcomed, nothing worse that seeing someone skip paying the fare. It means more staff on the ground, it reduces the attractiveness of the railway to anti-social elements and probably most importantly it means passengers are no longer paying for the freeloaders.
- If you can purchase a ticket you must
- What authority do staff have?
- Going to Court
- First Class
If you can purchase a ticket you must, it's the simplest and most accurate representation of the rules. The single most important piece of text is contained with the Iarnród Éireann bye-laws:
Where the Board gives notice that a station is unattended or the booking office is closed, or where any person is instructed by an authorised person to board a train at a station without purchasing a ticket at the booking office so as not to delay the departure of the train from the station, any person not in possession of a valid ticket entitling him or her to travel may enter a vehicle at that station for the purpose of travelling but that person must obtain a ticket or other authority from an authorised person on the train as soon as practicable after entering any vehicle or from an authorised person on arrival at the station to which such person is travelling by the train. SI 109 1984
Roughly translated its something like this, if you can get a ticket at the station you are boarding at you must. You must allow sufficient time to purchase a ticket. If the booking office is closed and the ticket vending machine (if provided) is unable to issue the ticket you want, you may travel without a ticket, provided that you purchase a ticket at the earliest opportunity. On most intercity services the ticket checker will issue you a ticket. If there is no one to sell you a ticket either on board or when you arrive at your destination, you travel for free as the obligation is on Iarnród Éireann to offer the ability to obtain a ticket.
The actual fixed penalty notice is set down in the Railway Safety Act 2005, Railway Safety Act 2005 (Fixed Payment Notice) Regulations 2006.
The fine is fixed at €100 payable within 21 days of the notice. Failure to pay or appeal successfully within the deadline results in a summons to the district court where a fine of up to €1000 may be applied. Remember the railway company is entitled to demand you pay the fare for the journey you made in addition to any fine.
Both Transdev and Rail Procurement Agency (on Luas) Iarnród Éireann (all mainline rail services) staff have the right in law to challenge you for your ticket, it is an offense not to comply with the request. You must also give your name and address if requested.
Failure to give your name and/or address, or the giving of a false name and/or address is in itself an offence. Bear in mind there is extensive CCTV in place. If the official is of the opinion that you are providing false information the official can legally detain you until the Gardai arrest you and take you into custody. The official may proceed directly to court proceedings without issuing a penalty fare.
Note you are under no obligation in law to given information such as a phone number or details of a third party to verify your identity to the official.
Grounds for appeal are very limited, if you have been found with no ticket, or a ticket which is invalid for any reason you will be issued with a fixed penalty fine of €100 payable within 21 days. The only appeal which works is if you can state that you had no reasonable opportunity to purchase a ticket before boarding the train.
Appeals should be made in writing to the address on the notice you received.
Possible valid grounds for appeal
- I boarded at an unstaffed station (e.g. Broombridge)
- Station was locked up, no access to ticket machine
- Ticket machine broken, no booking office
- Staff at station stated "pay at other end" due large queue
- Forgot monthly/annual ticket (send photocopy with matching CIE id card within 14 days)
Invalid grounds for appeal
- Queue was too long
- Train was early
- I was in a hurry
- I paid child fare because I couldn't afford adult fare
- I'm a student my student card is sufficient (must have student travel card)
Failure to pay the fixed penalty notice within 21 days will result in a court summons being issued. Maximum penalty before the courts is €1000 and/or up to 3 months in jail. Irish Rail and Transdev (Luas) have consistently obtained a 80%+ conviction rate in these cases.
If you are summoned to court you have limited options.
- Offer to pay the original fine, ticket price for the journey involved plus an administrative fee, generally this is twice the original fine. This may work but there is no obligation to offer you this option
- Go to court and make your case, representing yourself
- Seek professional legal advice as to your options
You must have a valid first class ticket to travel in first class. You are not allowed to sit (or stand!) in first class if the train is full unless you have been verbally instructed to do so by an Irish Rail member of staff. On Dublin Belfast services you may 'upgrade' to first class by paying on-board.
If you find a first class coach or section on a train which is not listed as having such in the public timetable you may deem the coach to be declassified and open to all ticket holders. Passengers on services originating/terminating at Portlaoise should particularly note this.