Hundreds of readers contacted the Express recently to say they had been bizarrely hit with the financial penalty while waiting in queues to buy a ticket at Leeds, simply because they had not taken a ‘promise to pay’ ticket at the stations they boarded.
Northern has said it was attempting to clampdown on fare dodgers.
But the company has been roundly criticised with people being pulled out of queues at Leeds where they were stood to buy a ticket, and fined £20.
However, some even said their children, often travelling on their own, had been purposely targeted, including some as young as 14.
Amanda Dixon said: “This happened to my 14-year-old daughter who was unaware of the promise to pay and went to pay at the ticket booth.
“They were taken to one side by a male member of staff who proceeded to issue them with a fine, even though they wanted to pay and even told them it could go to court if they didn’t pay the fine.”
Mark Crossley said: “I’ve just had to pay my son’s fine after he and his 14-year-old friend got a fine for exactly this . It does state on the fine if he doesn’t pay it could go to court and he could go to prison.”
Diane Richards said her 14-year-old daughter was left upset after her fine in May last year, and had not travelled on the train since.
But Northern remain defiant in their approach, saying they do not target specific groups and “do not seek to apply penalty fares without reason”.
They insist that customers should always take a ‘promise to pay’ voucher from the machines.
They says that customers who feel they have been fined unfairly can appeal, but many have contacted the Express to say their appeals were simply rejected.