WHEN university student Thomas Cornhill couldn’t get a ticket for his train journey, he thought he would do the decent thing and explain himself – so it came as a surprise when he was threatened with court action.
Thomas Cornhill was branded a fare-dodger by transport giant East Midlands Trains despite taking the time to explain why he couldn’t get a ticket during his journey from Sheffield to Burton.
Mr Cornhill, of Cherry Tree Road, Stapenhill, claimed he couldn’t buy his usual Derby Wayfarer ticket at the office in Sheffield as he thought the length of the queue would see him miss his train.
In addition, that ticket is not available from the ticket machines at the station.
But he thought this wouldn’t be a problem as he would be able to get a ticket from the conductor on the train.
However, when there wasn’t a conductor on board, the 28-year-old was not about to try and get away with the free ride he had just taken, explaining himself at the ticket office in Derby, where he was changing trains.
Despite being willing to pay for the journey he had taken, East Midlands Trains took the view that he had committed an offence, and threatened to prosecute him.
Mr Cornhill was stunned by the threat and though the firm has since backed down, his anger hasn’t diminished.
He said: “To think that someone being honest and admitting to their unfortunate circumstances is treated like a criminal makes me sick to my stomach.
“I was not trying to commit fraud or steal. Being an honest citizen who openly declared I had not got a ticket instead of just getting on a another train and escaping charge, they still felt the need to try and prosecute me.”
A spokesman for East Midlands Trains said: “We take a firm but fair approach to dealing with fare-dodgers, however it’s a basic principle of rail travel that passengers must have a valid ticket before boarding a train or else they could be liable to pay a fine.”