I was charged with a crime and £135 costs after I forgot my railcard

I have just read your article “Now you can forget your railcard once without being charged a fortune”. This came as some surprise as I have just been charged with a criminal offence for failing to carry a valid ticket and am facing prosecution.

I had absent-mindedly left my young person’s railcard at home in June and was travelling on a discounted ticket bought from Govia Thameslink from Willesden Junction to Huntingdon. The full price was £30.20, but I paid £19.95. The ticket inspector gave me an email address and asked me to send through the railcard details which would be checked against their database. He did not ask me to pay the difference in ticket price or offer a penalty fare. This is the first time this has happened. Nevertheless I have received court documents asking me to submit a plea and saying that they will try to claim at least £135 of prosecution costs.

A criminal record and £135 seems totally disproportionate given the discount I obtained was just over £10, and (as per your article) I was given to believe that the policy was different for forgotten railcards.

DG, Huntingdon, Cambs

Govia Thameslink says as a result of you sending proof of your valid railcard, “no further action will be taken. A letter has already been posted to him to confirm this.”

Clearly, rail operators have to make sure passengers don’t fraudulently travel on cheaper fares, but operators should also give passengers the benefit of the doubt.

The good news is rail companies offer digital versions of railcards that can be stored on a smartphone app.

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