Northern has published a bingo card in tribute to the least original excuses given by fare dodgers on its services ahead of National Bingo Day tomorrow (Tuesday 27 June).
The train operator’s conductors and revenue protection teams interact with millions of customers every year – 95% of which do the right thing and have a valid ticket for travel.
But the 5% who attempt to travel without a ticket seemingly draw their excuses from a very small pool, including vanishing purses and wallets, mystery benefactors paying for their ticket at a later date and false claims of ticket machines not working – something which staff have been able to fact check since May 2022.
Claims of tickets being on mobile devices that have ran out of power – a topic highlighted earlier this year following Northern’s partnership with mobile phone charge provider BattPoint – is another popular excuse.
For those unable to come up with a good one liner in time, pretending to be asleep during ticket inspections is something of a last resort.
Commenting on the challenges facing conductors and revenue protection staff, Jason Wade, head of retail operations for Northern, said: “Our colleagues have seen every tactic and heard every excuse.
“Everyone has a legal duty to buy a ticket before they board one of our trains. Why some people think they’re exempt from that rule is, quite frankly, a total mystery to me.
“There are eight excuses on the bingo card – and I know some of my colleagues wouldn’t have to wait very long to call a full house.
“There are so many ways to buy a ticket these days – there really is no excuse.”
Northern has invested in the largest network of digital ticket infrastructure of any train operator in the country, making it easier than ever to buy a ticket via their app, website or one of more than 600 ticket vending machines across their network.
In 2022/23, Northern’s Debt Recovery & Prosecutions Unit investigated 108,681 reports of attempted fare evasion, issued 53,344 Penalty Fare Notices, attended 301 court sittings, helped secure 14,072 convictions and recouped £2.9m (£2,851,883) of lost revenue for the taxpayer.
Fare evaders are prosecuted under the provisions of the Regulation of Railways Act 1889 and the Railway Byelaws made pursuant to the Transport Act 2000. In cases of ticket fraud, perpetrators are prosecuted under the Fraud Act 2006.
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.