Metrolink boss issues statement after passengers fear 'having card details stolen'

TfGM has issued a statement confirming who can inspect tickets
TfGM has issued a statement confirming who can inspect tickets -Credit:Manchester Evening News

Metrolink chiefs have clarified who is able to check tickets and bank cards for fare dodgers - after some passengers feared being scammed. Greater Manchester's transport bosses have ramped up their crackdown on fare evasion in recent months.

More than 86,000 penalty fares have been issued to tram passengers since the start of 2023, while fares increased last September. But some have recently voiced concerns over who is checking for fares.

A number of recent posts on Reddit have raised questions over whether plain clothes officers are allowed to check for fares on Metrolink trams and at stations. One passenger posted last week: "The last couple of days somebody’s come through checking tickets and scanning cards, on the Altrincham line.

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"He’s wearing a body camera but otherwise just looks like some dude. Does Metrolink have undercover ticket inspectors now? Or are people getting their details stolen?"

Another thread issued a 'warning for tram users' last month, with the poster claiming that a man 'operating alone' was 'pretending to be a ticket inspector'. But following the concerns, Transport for Greater Manchester (TfGM) has confirmed the use of plain clothes inspectors.

Manchester Victoria Metrolink tram stop
Manchester Victoria Metrolink tram stop -Credit:Paul Jones

It also says it has received no reports of passengers being scammed in the way Reddit users had suggested. Danny Vaughan, head of Metrolink at TfGM, told the Manchester Evening News: “Fare evasion is something we take very seriously, and it will continue to be a priority as we deliver the Bee Network.

"Since September 2023, Metrolink operator KeolisAmey Metrolink (KAM) has deployed plain clothes officers to target passengers who deliberately avoid buying a ticket, as part of robust crackdown on fare evaders. The response from passengers has been really positive, as have the results, with fare evasion falling by around a third.”

TfGM says that when carrying out plain clothes inspections, its customer service representatives must carry Metrolink ID with Metrolink lanyards and bodycam. It says these workers are often in teams of four or five.

Where possible, the driver will also make an announcement about plain clothes inspection on board a tram, TfGM says. Penalty fares soared last September 24 amid a hardening crackdown on Metrolink fare dodgers, with fines of up to £120 now charged, money which is then reinvested into the region's transport network.

TfGM's website says: "You must pay for your journey before travelling on the tram in Greater Manchester. If you don’t have a valid paper or mobile app ticket, or you don’t touch-in successfully with a smart card, contactless card or contactless device, then you'll be charged a penalty fare of up to £120.

"There will be more ticket checks than ever before on our network, including plain clothes ticket inspectors riding on the tram." Tickets can be purchased at stations, while contactless cards and devices must be tapped in and out at the start and end of a Metrolink journey.