Several fare evaders have been penalised on a train route between South Essex and London since the start of this year. 

Trenitalia-owned train operator c2c has reportedly caught 2,884 passengers travelling without tickets in 2023, out of which 2,394 were charged a penalty fare and 500 were named for potential prosecution.

A spokesperson for c2c revealed in a press release that their revenue protection team operates across the network, both in uniform and undercover to find the fare dodgers.

She said: “Passengers may not be able to easily spot them, but it is certain that officers will spot those avoiding paying their way.”

Failure to supply a valid ticket for the whole journey may result in hefty fines, she claimed.

Read More: London buses: The boroughs making most money from bus fines

As an example, she described the case of a passenger who was ordered to pay £2048 due to purchasing Basildon to Laindon tickets but was travelling to West Ham.

The operator has collected more than £100,000 in prosecution payments so far in 2023, she added.

More than 350 people are said to have gone through the court system in the past 12 months for the crime with every individual being found guilty.

The move comes as part of the operator’s “zero tolerance” policy on fare evasion that is a criminal offence under the Regulation of Railways Act 1889.

If an offender is caught and convicted, they will receive a criminal record in their name as per law. 

Iain Palmer, c2c’s Head of Revenue Security and Protection, claimed that aside from it being an offence, fare evasion costs the rail industry “millions of pounds a year”.

He said in the press release: “The impact of fare evasion is also felt by our fare paying customers.

“It’s not right for others not to pay for their travel, and I’m sure our customers do not want to sit next to someone who hasn’t paid for their full journey.”

The operator, he added, will “continue to tackle this problem” with the help of its Revenue Protection Officers.

He urged anyone who knows a fare evader to send a direct message to c2c on their twitter page.