South West Trains extend penalty fare scheme to Hounslow loop

And replace cheap day returns with more expensive option

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South West Trains completed their roll of state-of-the-art ticket vending machines at all the stations on the Hounslow loop meaning that Chiswick, Kew Bridge, Brentford, Syon Lane, Isleworth and Hounslow are now included their penalty fare scheme.

Passengers travelling to and from stations within the penalty fare area without a valid ticket may be liable to a penalty of £20 or twice the single fare to the next station at which the train stops, whichever is the greater.

The new area will come into force from Sunday 1 April the penalty fare area will cover most of the SWT network.
SWT Customer Service Director Ian Johnston, said, “The majority of our passengers pay their fares. We have a duty to them to make sure they are not subsidising the minority of passengers who want to evade them.
We believe this is the fairest way to ensure that everyone travels under the simple rule – buy your ticket before you board a train.”

The news comes in the same week that London TravelWatch expressed surprise and deep regret at South West Trains' announcement that, from May, Cheap Day Return tickets will no longer be available in the morning, to be replaced by a more expensive ticket. Cheap Day Returns will now only be available for travel after midday.

Brian Cooke, London TravelWatch, said, "We are disgusted with this decision by SWT - once again the long-suffering rail passenger is being hit with higher fares. Is pricing people off the railway really the future for transport policy in Britain? This will not solve the crowding issues - and we are concerned it will actually exacerbate them. If the fare after 9.30am is not radically cheaper than before 9.30am, then what is the deterrent to travelling in the already extremely over-crowded peak time?"

SWT announced the new fares today, without any consultation whatsoever with passengers or passenger groups.

Brian Cooke continued: "It is passengers who will be hit by these higher fares and we would expect to have been, at the very least, consulted about these major changes - it shows absolute contempt for SWT passengers not to have sought advice from the people who use the trains day in and day out. As a watchdog, we fear that as franchises get more and more expensive - it becomes imperative to the train company to claw their premium back quickly - and it is the passengers' pockets that will be hit hardest."

March 22, 2007