Rail operator Merseyrail faced a social media backlash after a man who had paid his fare online was fined £20 for not having a paper ticket – but it still has no immediate plans to accept e-tickets. Tony McDonough reports
Rail operator Merseyrail has no immediate plans to accept e-tickets on its Liverpool city region network despite facing a backlash after a man who had paid his fare online was fined for having no paper ticket.
Josh Ward had purchased a ticket via Trainline to travel from Ormskirk to Liverpool Central with his girlfriend who is at university in the region. He paid £7.40 but when he reached Liverpool he was fined £20 for not having a valid ticket.
Unlike many other rail operators across the UK, Merseyrail does not accept e-tickets as proof of payment. Josh’s father Barry Ward told the Liverpool Echo that when his son reached the gate at Central he asked if he could buy another ticket there and claim a refund from Trainline, but the guard refused.
“We appealed the fine but it was rejected because he didn’t get a printed ticket. He’s not from the area, so how is he supposed to get one?” added Barry.
In its response to the Echo article Merseyrail pointed out that it had had a long established ‘buy before you ride’ policy. Greg Suligowski, head of communications, said: “Passengers purchasing tickets to travel on Merseyrail from third party retailers such as the Trainline, must have their printed ticket with them in order to travel.
“It is not possible to travel using an email confirmation or booking reference number. Passengers who don’t have a printed ticket must purchase one before travel or may be liable for a penalty fare.
“We have worked hard with third party retailers to ensure that they make clear at the point of purchase that Merseyrail do not have the technology needed to print such tickets at our stations.”
After Josh’s story was published Merseyrail came in for significant criticism on social media. One Twitter user posted: “Other rail providers across the city region actively promote e-tickets to make journeys simpler and more convenient for users.
“Another wrote: “Demanding the use of paper tickets makes all the talk of the climate emergency ring very hollow. This isn’t exactly new technology. Another example of the complacency that holds the city back.”
However, despite the adverse reaction to the story, LBN understands Merseyrail has no immediate plans to accept e-tickets purchased online. The Liverpool City Region Combined Authority has introduced the Metrocard but currently this can only be used to purchase season tickets and all-day passes.