Woman slapped with £104 fine despite buying train ticket

Rhema Otache
-Credit: (Image: Colin Lane/Liverpool Echo)

A woman was fined over £100 after losing her return train ticket, despite showing Merseyrail staff proof she had made the purchase.

Rhema Otache, 25, who lives in Liverpool City Centre, bought a return ticket from Liverpool Central Station to Waterloo on June 3. She took a photograph of the ticket in order to claim her expenses back from her employer.

After going to work in Waterloo, Rhema took the train back to Liverpool Central. However, when she reached the ticket barrier, she realised she had lost her ticket and couldn't pass through the machine.

READ MORE: Enter our £1,000 Aldi voucher giveaway and go wild in the aisles

READ MORE: The Liverpool City Region General Election 2024 survey: Tell us how you feel about NHS, immigration, Keir Starmer and more

Talking to the ECHO, Rhema said: "It must have slipped out of my trouser pocket during the course of the day."

Rhema apologised to the guard at the ticket barrier and explained the situation to him, but he wouldn't let her pass. She showed him the photo she had taken of the tickets earlier in the day, and even produced the card transaction on her phone showing she had spent £3 on the ticket at 10.18am that morning, corresponding with the time the photo was taken at 10.19am.

The guard at the barrier reportedly told her the evidence she produced was "not enough" and that she would have to pay a fine of £104.40. Overcome with frustration after a long day at work, the young woman burst into tears.

Rhema was referred first to British Transport Police, who she says were "more sympathetic" to her plight. One of the officers reportedly told her, "if it was up to me, I'd let it go".

The photograph Rhema showed to Merseyrail staff
The photograph Rhema showed to Merseyrail staff -Credit:Rhema Otache

But when she went to the ticket revenue staff, she was told the fine would stand.

Rhema said: "They had a discussion among themselves, and decided I had to pay. I told them, 'if it's that big a deal, I'll just buy another ticket', and they said, 'absolutely not'.

According to Rhema, this back and forth continued for over an hour, but Merseyrail staff "would not budge".

She was told she could appeal the fine, and she has already submitted an appeal letter to Merseyrail. If she pays the full amount within 21 days, the fine will be reduced to £54.40.

For a student like Rhema, even that reduced sum represents a significant outlay. Rhema said: "I felt devastated by it. I don't have spare money, which is going to be the case for so many people in a cost of living crisis."

She added: "The policy is clearly illogical and unfair, and there is a simple solution to help people."

Suzanne Grant, Chief Commercial Officer at Merseyrail said: “Whilst we can’t comment on any individual case, Merseyrail operates a ‘buy before you ride’ policy. This means that customers must have a valid ticket before travelling on our services. To help prevent fraudulent travel, this must be the physical ticket issued, photographs of the ticket cannot be accepted.”

“Where a customer believes a penalty has been issued unfairly, an independent penalty fares appeals service is available. The details of how to access this service are provided to all customers at the point at which the penalty is issued.”

Don't miss the biggest and breaking stories by signing up to the Echo Daily newsletter here