Mum has rail prosecution withdrawn

Claire Long
Claire Long

A Wigan mum was slapped with an £85 rail fine for evasion despite having bought a ticket that cost exactly the same as the one she needed for her journey.

But rail bosses have now u-turned on their decision to prosecute Claire Long, blaming a “computer error” for the costly blunder, after the Wigan Post highlighted her plight earlier this week.

Claire was due to be hauled before the courts by Northern Rail later this month after refusing to pay the fine, insisting the rail firm’s accusations of fare-dodging were entirely false.

A spokesman for Northern said: “We have reviewed the case and can confirm our customer had incorrectly been issued with a penalty notice.

“During the course of the review we discovered a computer error which has now been rectified. We are now in the process of contacting our customer and the courts to withdraw all proceedings and cancel any fines and penalty notices.”

The spokesman added: “We apologise for any distress caused and are taking steps to ensure such issues do not happen again.”

The 40-year-old had been given the fixed penalty notice after boarding a train to Manchester Victoria from Orrell. Despite Orrell station being further away from Manchester than Wigan, a return ticket at that time would have cost exactly the same as one from Wigan Wallgate, at £5.40. But Claire was stopped at the barriers in Manchester, and accused of fare dodging. She only received the fixed penalty notice last week, months after the offending incident.

Claire said: “I’m happy to hear it has been overturned. My case has brought to light the obvious discrepancies in how they deal with these cases. In the end, we got the right result.”