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The Parent (Ticket) Trap: Eleventh hour parents effectively packing a £100 penalty fare in their own child’s lunchbox, says Northern

Northern has appealed to parents across the region not to send their children off to catch the train to school on the promise of sending them a ticket for their journey via text message.

Passengers are required to buy a ticket before they board the train – and some schoolchildren are risking a £100 penalty fare while waiting for their parents to honour their pledge.

Mark Powles, commercial and customer director at Northern, said:

“It’s perfectly legal for parents to buy their child’s ticket and send them via text – however, why risk it?

“It’s so easy to get distracted in the morning rush and the moment their child boards a train without a ticket they might as well have packed a £100 penalty fare in their lunchbox themselves.”

Northern has long-campaigned for students to switch their commute from road to rail and works with over 185 secondary schools and university technical colleges on an ‘Under 16 Education Season Ticket’ scheme.

The scheme, which offers students 75%-off the cost of their commute, covers unlimited travel between any two stations on the Northern network seven days a week – which means they can be used for travel at weekends and during the school holidays too.

For more information and details of how to apply for a ticket, parents should visit:

Powles added:

“With the new year and new school term ahead of us, now is the time to adopt new habits. And with up to 75%-off, Under 16 Education Season Tickets offer one of the most generous discounts of any ticket scheme in the country – saving parents hundreds of pounds per year.

“They’ll also be able to rest-assured their child will always have a valid ticket to get them to and from school – and they won’t have to spend time buying and texting individual tickets every day.”

Since January 2023, anyone caught travelling on the rail network in England without a valid ticket for travel or ‘promise to pay’ voucher has faced a £100 penalty fare.

The penalty fare was previously just £20 (since 2005) but it was felt by the rail industry that that figure was too low and was no longer an effective deterrent to would-be fare evaders.
On Sunday 10 December, rail timetables across the North of England changed in line with the rest of the National Rail network. Customers are encouraged to use the ‘Check My Timetable’ feature on the Northern website for more information about their local station.

Northern is the second largest train operator in the UK, with 2,500 services a day to more than 500 stations across the North of England.