A Stonegate commuter has paid back more than £40,000 to South Eastern trains after allegedly dodging fares to London and only paying a third of the cost.
South Eastern said the man, who has not been named, paid back £42,550 after it claimed he skipped the fare between Stonegate and London Bridge and said it hoped the fine would act as a deterrent to others.
South Eastern claimed the man swapped trains at London Bridge where he caught another train to Cannon Street.
They said it was here that he tapped in his Oyster Card only paying £7.20 for his commute.
South Eastern said the man was stopped in London Bridge in November last year having ‘tapped out’ with an Oyster card. The revenue protection officer was alerted when his card flashed up a deduction of £7.20, which indicated that he had not ‘tapped in’ anywhere.
South Eastern said they had a record of the last time he bought a ticket as being in November 2008. South Eastern said he then bought a season ticket again in November 2013, which South Eastern claim was a few days after being stopped and questioned by an officer.
A spokeswoman for South Eastern said: “It is on this basis that we believe he had been evading fares for five years, although he did not admit to this at any point.”
He paid back the fare in an out of court settlement and £450 costs.
A spokeswoman for South Eastern continued: “This case highlights the cost of fare evasion to the industry and the scale of the penalties that individuals face when caught. We hope it will act as a deterrent, particularly given that the sum involved is far above the average earnings of most of the fare-paying public.”
The story has caused some people to speak out on Twitter with some claiming the man should have been prosecuted.
One Twitter user said: “Should have been given a custodial sentence. Happens to people who don’t pay their TV Licence.”
While another said: “He should have been prosecuted like everyone else. Prosecutions where the monies are recovered take place all the time.”
While others disagree and think the penalty was just. One Twitter user said: “Not sure what fuss is. He repaid debt.”
A spokeswoman for South Eastern defended its decision to settle out of court. The spokeswoman added: “Out of court settlements are a familiar part of the legal system in the UK and in this case this option has allowed us to recover the sum owed to us very quickly without incurring the additional costs or uncertainty associated with pursuing the matter through the courts.
“We take the issue of fare evasion very seriously and are proactively taking the battle to people who try to avoid paying their way. We’ve quadrupled the number of revenue protection officers that are out on our network tackling this offence since our franchise started in 2006 and we now have a 150-strong team. Conductors on our trains carry out checks during journeys, our revenue inspectors travel across the network making checks and enforcing penalty fares, ticket barriers at our main London terminals are manned, and we’ve also installed self-service ticket machines at most of our stations to make it easier for passengers to buy tickets before travelling.”