Penalties for dodging rail fares in England and Wales could be doubled under Government plans.
The Department for Transport (DfT) said penalty fares are “no longer fulfilling their deterrent function” at their current level of £20.
It said its preference is to bring them “more closely into line” with Transport for London’s scheme, which is an £80 penalty reduced to £40 if paid within 21 days.
A DfT consultation document stated: “By acting as an effective deterrent, more revenue will be generated by the railway, which can be re-invested to improve the quality of passenger services.”
Penalty fares on the rail network have been frozen at £20 for 16 years, meaning they have decreased to around £14 in real terms (at 2005 prices).
Other western European countries operate harsher schemes, according to the DfT.
These include Germany, where fare dodgers must pay 60 euros (£51), while in France they are hit with a 50 euro fine (£43) and face increased sanctions if that is not paid on the spot.
On Britain’s railways, penalty fares are £20 or twice the fare to the next stop if that is higher.
Before the coronavirus pandemic around £240 million a year was being lost through fare evasion across Britain, according to industry estimates.
A DfT spokesman said: “It is vital that everyone travels with a valid train ticket, and this consultation will help decide if the existing penalty fee remains an effective deterrent.
“With the cost of the penalty fare remaining set since 2005, it’s important that we examine how best to crack down on ticketless travel without impacting honest fare-paying passengers.”