On United Kingdom and Republic of Ireland public transport systems, a penalty fare, standard fare, or fixed penalty notice is a special fare charged at a higher than normal price because the purchaser did not comply with the normal ticket purchasing rules. It should not be confused with an unpaid fares notice.
Typically penalty fares are incurred by passengers failing to purchase a ticket before travelling or by purchasing an incorrect ticket which does not cover their whole journey.
Penalty fares are a civil debt, not a fine, and a person whose penalty fare is paid is not considered to have committed a criminal offence. Penalty fares are used to discourage casual fare evasion and disregard for the ticketing rules without resorting to (in the case of railways in Great Britain) the drastic and costly step of prosecution under the Regulation of Railways Act 1889 or other laws dealing with theft and fraud. More egregious fare avoiders can still be prosecuted and fined or imprisoned if convicted.
Penalty fares were first introduced on British Rail's Network SouthEast services under the British Rail (Penalty Fares) Act 1989. Over time they have been extended to cover many parts of the National Rail network. Initially the penalty fare was set at £10 or twice the full single fare to the next station (whichever was higher) in addition to the full single fare for the rest of the journey. This was later raised to £20.
Penalty fares on National Rail services are due to increase to £50 or four times the full single fare to the next station (whichever is the highest) in addition to the full single fare for the rest of the journey later in 2014. A 50% prompt payment discount will also come into force.
Penalty fares on the National Rail network are legally based on section 130 of the Railways Act 1993. The rules which govern the application of penalty fares are the Penalty Fares Rules 2002. Under these rules any passenger found to be without a valid ticket can be issued a penalty fare irrespective of whether it was their intent to travel without paying.
Penalty fares can only be issued by Authorised Collectors, commonly known as Revenue Protection Inspectors (RPIs), either on the train or at the destination station. Some RPIs receive commission on each penalty issued. RPIs are different from regular train conductors, who cannot issue penalty fares. Passengers unable to pay the fare on the spot are allowed to pay within 21 days. It is a legal requirement to provide your Name and Address when a Penalty Fare is issued.
Penalty fares cannot be issued in some circumstances, including: if passengers were unable to purchase a ticket due to faulty ticket machines or closed ticket offices, if warning notices are not displayed correctly, if the train or station is excluded from a penalty fares scheme, or if the National Rail Conditions of Carriage allow an excess fare to be paid.
RPIs can use their discretion not to give penalty fares to passengers who may have greater difficulty in purchasing tickets e.g. elderly, disabled or pregnant passengers, those with learning difficulties, or those who do not understand English.
Travellers issued with penalty fares which they believe to be unfair may appeal the fare within 21 days to an appeal service, which varies depending on the mode of transport. For National Rail services this is the Independent Penalty Fares Appeal Service which is run by Southeastern Trains Ltd.
Some penalty fares schemes include stations with Compulsory Ticket Areas (CTAs), in which people without valid tickets or other authorities may be charged a penalty fare even if they have not travelled and if they do not intend to travel. These include Amersham, Aylesbury, Beaconsfield, Birmingham Moor Street, Birmingham Snow Hill, Chalfont and Latimer, Chorleywood, Derby, Ealing Broadway, Gerrards Cross, Greenford TfL station, Harrow on the Hill, High Wycombe, Leicester, London Marylebone, London St Pancras, Maidenhead, Nottingham, Rickmansworth, Sheffield, South Ruislip    
The London Regional Transport (Penalty Fares) Act 1992 and the Greater London Authority Act 1999 allows Transport for London to charge penalty fares under similar but not identical rules to those on National Rail services.
Initially, the maximum penalty fare was set at £10 (£5 on buses and trams) or twice the full single fare to the next station (whichever is higher) in addition to the full single fare for the rest of the journey. It was later raised to £20 for all transport modes.
On 11 January 2009, it was further raised to £50 on TfL services (Docklands Light Railway, the Emirates Air Line, London Buses, London Tramlink, London Overground and London Underground) although like many other civil penalties in the UK, a 50% discount is applied for early payments (within 21 days). Since 2 January 2012, all TfL modes have had a penalty fare of £80.
In addition to the London services mentioned above, penalty fares apply on several other tram and metro systems in Great Britain, including the Midland Metro, Nottingham Express Transit (NET), and the Tyne and Wear Metro (NEXUS).    
Penalty Fares on buses and trains in Northern Ireland are applied in accordance with regulations made under the Transport Act (Northern Ireland) 1967.
While still part of the UK, Scotland has its own legal system, and train services are overseen by a separate government body (Transport Scotland).
Abellio ScotRail, the franchise that operates most of the trains in Scotland, does not issue penalty fares. ScotRail may collect details and send a bill for a ticket, plus an administration fee, but it rarely does. Ticket inspectors are found on most trains, and passengers travelling without a ticket are expected to buy a ticket on the train.
If a passenger had the opportunity to buy a ticket before they boarded the train (the station had a ticket machine or open ticket office), ScotRail's policy is that the passenger must buy a full-priced single ticket for their journey and not buy cheaper tickets such as cheap-day returns, senior citizen's tickets or use any kind of Railcard to get a discount.
However, Scotland has many unstaffed train stations that do not have ticket machines or with ticket offices sometimes closed. Then, the full range of tickets is available on the train.
In England and Wales, holding an expired season ticket counts as travelling without a ticket, and passengers are liable to penalty fares or prosecution. In Scotland, passengers can renew season tickets on the train but only for a week. Monthly or annual season tickets are available only from staffed stations.
Iarnród Éireann (Irish Rail) issues fixed payment notices on Dublin Area Rapid Transit (DART), Commuter light rail, and InterCity services, per the Railway Safety Act 2005 (Fixed Payment Notice) Regulations 2006. Appeals must be made within 21 days and failure to pay may lead to a criminal conviction and a fine of up to €1,000 plus the cost of the unpaid fare. In 2014, fixed penalty notices were issued to 9,885 fare evaders, of which 356 were prosecuted in the District Court.
The Luas tram service issues standard fares of €45 if paid within 14 days or €100 if paid after 14 days but before 28 days. This is regulated under Bye-Law 4 of the Light Railway (Regulation of Travel and Use) Bye-Laws 2015 S.I. No. 322 of 2015. Dublin Bus operates a similar standard fare penalty system, where a €100 penalty is reduced to €50 if paid within 21 days.
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The concept of penalty fares is also known in other countries.
Penalty fare schemes in local transport (suburban rail, buses, underground trains) are administered by local transport authorities (Verkehrsverbund). The penalty fare is usually €60 or twice the ticket price (whichever is higher).
Germany's principal InterCity TOC, DB Fernverkehr, does not operate a penalty fare scheme. Instead it has ticket inspectors on all trains.
According to "Conditions of Issue of Tickets" of MTR, passengers traveling without a ticket in paid areas of MTR, is responsible to pay HK$500 surcharge as penalty fare. This includes traveling in First Class on the East Rail Line without a First Class ticket or validated Octopus Card.
The penalty fare on the Budapest Metro is set at 16,000 forint (8,000 if paid on the spot).
In Moscow Oblast, the penalty fare is 1000 rubles. On railways, the penalty fare will be increased to fifty times the 10 km fare, plus the fare from the previous station to named station.
Switzerland operates a similar system to Germany. Long-distance trains have a ticket inspector on board who checks all tickets, but ticket-selling on board had withdrawn from 11 December 2011. Local trains within a Tarifverbunde (local zone fare systems) use penalty fares with random checks. For example, in North-West Switzerland the penalty fare is CHF 100, but the monthly season costs CHF 75. Even with relatively infrequent ticket checks there is a financial incentive to remain legal.
Five states run train networks: New South Wales, Victoria, Queensland, Western Australia and South Australia, and all have different penalty fares.
In New South Wales, the penalty for travelling without a valid ticket is $200, with the maximum penalty being $550.
In Victoria, passengers intercepted by authorised officers without a valid ticket are given the option of having their name and address taken and having the circumstances of their offence documented which may result in a $217 fine being mailed to their address. Passengers also have the option of purchasing a $75 on-the-spot penalty fare with their credit card or debit card, which cannot be appealed.
In Queensland, the penalty for travelling without a valid ticket is $227.
In Western Australia, the on-the-spot penalty fare cost is $100.
In South Australia, The penalty for travelling without a valid ticket is $220.
In the New York metropolitan area, tickets sold on board the Long Island Rail Road and the Metro-North Railroad, as well as on New Jersey Transit trains, carry a surcharge. This is not described as a penalty, simply a more expensive purchase option.
Amtrak conductors can sell tickets to customers who do not have a ticket, but there is a surcharge if the train was boarded at a station that was open and able to sell tickets.
On most local bus and rail systems, failure to purchase a ticket in advance is considered "fare evasion" which can result in a citation with a fine ranging from $100 to $500 depending on the jurisdiction. On systems relying on the honor system, inspectors will randomly make checks for passengers not purchasing tickets. Otherwise more serious penalties may apply for jumping turnstiles or otherwise evading fare collection systems.