There’s been a surge in people being prosecuted for fare evasion over the past year after TfL ramped up its enforcement activities.

TfL estimates that fare evasion costs it around £150 million a year and last year they prosecuted 19,614 people for fare evasion, an increase of 56% on 2022, but down sharply on the nearly 30,000 people prosecuted for fare evasion in 2019/20.

For the record, unsurprisingly, just 32 people were prosecuted during the lock-down year.

Revenue inspector (c) TfL

Transport for London’s (TfL) latest data on fare evasion also showed that TfL investigated 421 people for habitual fare evasion during 2023, defrauding TfL of more than £300,000 in lost fare revenue. Of these cases, 190 have been prosecuted to date and 189 were found guilty, with the remaining cases pending court action.

TfL has recently improved its ability to investigate and detect the most prolific offenders causing the greatest revenue loss through its irregular travel analysis platform (ITAP).

ITAP is a detection system introduced a few years ago that detects fare evasion and revenue loss from patterns in ticketing and passenger data, identifying people who avoid paying for all or part of their journey. The information generated by ITAP supports various intervention activities that aim to measure and reduce revenue loss and deter people from evading their fares. These activities include targeted email campaigns warning customers that they must pay the correct fare, operational station deployments and a register of regular offenders that ITAP has identified for irregular travel patterns who may be prioritised for further investigation and subsequent prosecution.

A recent case investigated by TfL identified a passenger fare evading by using a Contactless Payment Card and failing to validate correctly for their journeys. An investigation into the passenger’s travel patterns identified 193 occasions of fare evasion which totalled unpaid fares of over £1,200. The passenger recently attended court and pleaded guilty to all the offences.

TfL also recently identified a passenger fare evading by using a bank card that had insufficient funds to pay the fare. Analysis of the card’s usage showed a regular failure to validate on every journey made in over a year. CCTV footage was obtained to assist in locating and detecting the offender. The passenger attended court and again pleaded guilty to all the offences. He has been ordered to pay TfL £1,795.60.

Currently, the money reclaimed from chasing fare evaders – amounting to £7.2m in 2022/23 – doesn’t cover the cost of chasing them.

To help reduce the incidence of people pushing through the ticket barriers, TfL is also working with their gate-line supplier to strengthen the wide aisle gates on the London Underground. Testing took place at Canada Water and Vauxhall stations ahead of a wider roll out later this year.

Apart from the loss of revenue, TfL says that about half of all work-related violence and aggression incidents towards frontline staff are caused when fare dodgers are stopped by staff.

Following the Department for Transport’s decision to increase the penalty fare to £100 across National Rail, the Mayor has approved an increase to the penalty fare on all TfL services from £80 to £100 — reduced to £50 is paid within 21 days. That’s the first time TfL has raised the penalty fare since 2011.

The Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan said: “TfL relies on revenue from fares to be able to deliver the safe, clean and reliable public transport that Londoners deserve. Fare evasion deprives us of much needed revenue and so I welcome this tough new action from TfL to increase enforcement and ensure more fare evaders are brought to justice. Latest figures show real progress is being made, but I will continue to work with TfL and the British Transport Police to crack down on fare evasion, and build a better, safer and fairer London for everyone.”


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  1. Myles O’flanagan says:

    I’m sure your on about how many or the total amount of train fines I have been given in the last 8 years on the railway get my money to buy season tickets please contact me with an email

  2. Chris Rogers says:

    Good to help reduce the incidence of people pushing through the ticket barriers by strengthening them but higher polycarbonate fins retrofitted would be better

  3. Annoyed commuter says:

    Why bother strengthening the wide barriers when fare evaders just tail-gate in full view of the gate line staff who do nothing other than possibly make a snarky comment?

    • Annoyed staff says:

      Gate line staff are actively discouraged from intervening with fare evaders. TfL specifically tells them not to physically stop them, and report incidents using their dedicated app. Where staff do intervene, they risk physical assault, being spat on, prosecution for assault, and even losing their jobs for misconduct. So gate line staff are forced to stand by and watch these lowlifes get away with it, AND have annoyed commuters blame them for doing nothing. Trust me, most gate line staff would love to grab fare evaders and physically throw them off the station – but they just can’t.

    • Andrew says:

      Some people really can’t afford to pay to go to work, I’m not saying it’s okay to do that all the time… Fares are not cheap! But those who do that repeatedly even if they can afford to pay that’s a problem…

  4. Tom Wright says:

    I’d ban anyone caught fare evading from the underground network for 5 years. That would teach them a lesson. Failure to comply and face jail time.

    • Nic says:

      A ban is not really enforceable though – it’s not like a pub or a shop, the system is open to the public at hundreds of locations. The prosecutions for fare evasion are effective. 189/190 shows they go to court with the evidence to win the case. Prosecute and fine, to recover the revenue stolen and if there is any element of violence against staff, press for a custodial sentence. Anyone who was banned would likely only be caught in breach if they used the same stations they got caught at, and thus were recognised, or got caught committing the same offence again. If they paid their fare and went about their business, likely no one would ever know they’d been banned, so that part of their ‘punishment’ would be ineffective. (except of course a lot of people are habitual offenders, so the chances of repeating their past behaviour are high)

  5. Tee jay says:

    It’s not just the trains ! I’m astonished at how many people travel on the bus for free.All you have to do apparently is tell the driver you’ve lost your oyster ! People sneak on the back doors and people who get on the back doors with a buggy and don’t pay 😡

  6. Duncan says:

    Doesn’t help with tram at Wimbledon if then going on to a train. Getting off the tram you have to clock out on tram platform go up stairs,clock out of station ticket barrier then clock back through barrier then down stairs to train. Most don’t bother

    • Dee says:

      Are there not oyster validators on the tram platform to save you doing this? Haven’t been through for a few years, but there used to be? You tap on an oyster validator on the tram platform (NOT the green tram ones), then proceed to your train from there, without going to the gateline?

  7. Ulla Thiessen says:

    In a public transport system where I suspect as many passengers defraud TfL as TfL defrauds the passengers, I plead for these revenue inspectors instead be employed to guard the people in the streets, to protect them from violent assaults, muggings, Murders and burglary in their homes and cars? Surely safety of the people is paramount? These paltry sums lost by passengers jumping over a barrier bear no resemblance to other crimes that are not policed! A US visitor recently was accused by one of these TfL revenue inspectors of not having tapped in at the start of her journey when her iPhone deep underground had no signal to prove it. (It never shows anything until you’ve tapped out anyway). Once she’d been apprehended and frogmarched to an exit the inspection of her iPhone confirmed she had indeed tapped in! Who trains these inspectors? Yet a German tour leader recently noticed how her Oyster card showed far less credit than the rest of her group’s. I helped her check the reader and it turned out she “hadn’t tapped in” at the beginning of one journey (the double gates are slow to react and she didn’t realise you need to wait till it’s shut before re-opening it and what the right beep sounds like). Getting this money back is impossible, as all public offices have been closed, trying to get it back online is very time consuming and then the money is transferred to a UK bank account, so not an option to the millions of visitors to London who fall foul of an inefficient system.

    • ChrisC says:

      £ 150 million a year revenue loss from fare evasion isn’t a ‘paltry sum’.

      You don’t need to visit an ‘office’ to sort problems out. There are staff in the gate line area to assist with most problems and would have been able to fix this had they been approached.

      If you think TFL revenue protection inspectors can be over zealous then you’ve never been to Berlin and seen how some of the BVG inspectors deal with passengers

  8. Ali says:

    As a bus driver we are told if a passenger doesn’t want to pay we should just let them on to avoid confrontation and just to push a button which apparently sends “data” to TfL. It’s a joke though, I probably see about 30 fare evaders a day during my shift.
    TfL need to have more ticket inspectors and need to raise the fine to £300 rather than £100

  9. Kevin says:

    I agree with one person who said the buses need more inspectors. Teenagers are the worst offenders saying they have lost their oyster then getting on the bus. I’ve seen it so many times..

  10. Will says:

    Make the gates so that you can’t force them open or jump over them.It will never happen in the UK as it would be deemed unsafe by someone.Flawed design from the get go.They need to find out from the MTA as to how it should be done.

  11. Sonic says:

    This is highly misleading and seems to be part of a TfL PR exercise to indicate improved prosecution rates when, in fact, they have fallen. Significantly fewer apprehensions and prosecutions were made than were happening pre-covid. Of multiple thousands of reported evasions under 200 successful prosecutions for multiple fare evasion were achieved.

  12. MilesT says:

    Do the press releases from TfL document many of the prosecutions have been processed “in absentia” (and with limited written prior notification) using the very controversial single justice procedure, based on limited paperwork captured at the time of the incident (as an admission of guilt and assumed fare evaded), or from analysis contemporaneous digital records from solutions like ITAP linked to other identifying records (e.g. payment cards used to pay for travel by the same person as seen on CCTV, payment cards used to fund an oyster card)

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