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Have No Ticket - The Truth Behind the Fare Evasion Rules

Recently, Iarnród Éireann have got tough on fare evasion for the first time. A zero tolerance policy on fare evasion is to be welcomed, nothing worse that seeing someone skip paying the fare. It means more staff on the ground, it reduces the attractiveness of the railway to anti-social elements and probably most importantly it means passengers are no longer paying for the freeloaders.

Regardless of circumstances, to protect all parties it is essential the rules and proceedures as laid down in law are followed. This protects the passengers rights and also ensures in legitimate cases justice can be served in full.

If you can purchase a ticket you must

Irish Rail

If you can purchase a ticket you must, it's the simplest and most accurate representation of the rules. The single most important piece of text is contained with the Iarnród Éireann bye-laws:

Where the Board gives notice that a station is unattended or the booking office is closed, or where any person is instructed by an authorised person to board a train at a station without purchasing a ticket at the booking office so as not to delay the departure of the train from the station, any person not in possession of a valid ticket entitling him or her to travel may enter a vehicle at that station for the purpose of travelling but that person must obtain a ticket or other authority from an authorised person on the train as soon as practicable after entering any vehicle or from an authorised person on arrival at the station to which such person is travelling by the train. SI 109 1984

Roughly translated its something like this, if you can get a ticket at the station you are boarding at you must. You must allow sufficient time to purchase a ticket. If the booking office is closed and the ticket vending machine (if provided) is unable to issue the ticket you want, you may travel without a ticket, provided that you purchase a ticket at the earliest opportunity. On most intercity services the ticket checker will issue you a ticket. If there is no one to sell you a ticket either on board or when you arrive at your destination, you travel for free as the obligation is on Iarnród Éireann to offer the ability to obtain a ticket.

The actual fixed penalty notice is set down in the Railway Safety Act 2005, Railway Safety Act 2005 (Fixed Payment Notice) Regulations 2006.

The fine is fixed at €100 payable within 21 days of the notice. Failure to pay or appeal successfully within the deadline results in a summons to the district court where a fine of up to €1000 may be applied. Remember the railway company is entitled to demand you pay the fare for the journey you made in addition to any fine.


For Luas a blanket, you must have a ticket before boarding policy applies. What to do if all the ticket machines at a stop are out of order has never been defined, however the obligation lies with Luas to provide ticket vending equipment.

What authority do staff have?

Power To Check Tickets

Both Transdev and Transport Infrastructure Ireland (on Luas) Iarnród Éireann (all rail services) staff have the right in law to challenge you for your ticket, it is an offence not to comply with the request. You must also give your name and address if requested.

Tickets may be checked onboard, upon disembarkation and also where a platform is secured by a turnstile or gateline prior to boarding.

Name And Address

Failure to give your name and/or address, or the giving of a false name and/or address is in itself an offence. Bear in mind there is extensive CCTV in place. If the official is of the opinion that you are providing false information the official can legally detain you until the Gardai arrest you and take you into custody. The official may proceed directly to court proceedings without issuing a penalty fare.

Authorised Official

The official must produce evidence in the form of an ID card or warrant card to prove they have the authority under the Rail Safety Act or Byelaw to act as an authorised official. If they refuse to do so or do not have the card with them, they have no legal power and you are free to go.

Name And Number

The official must give his/her name and/or staff number if so requested by any passenger. This applies to all staff at all times.


Regardless of the circumstances you have a basic right to be treated with courtesy and dignity. Equally you should cooperate (as far as you are legally required) and treat staff with courtesy and respect, they have a difficult job to do.

Any conversation you have with an authorised official should take place out of the hearing of other parties and you should not be intimidated or crowded around by several members of staff. Never accept an offer to enter a private area unless you request such yourself.

Matching ID

If the ticket requires matching ID, it must be produced or else a penalty fare will be issued. If this ID was issued by a transport company, Irish Rail, Luas, Dublin Bus it may be retained by the official in evidence, as may any Leap card presented. These all owned by the transport undertaking not the customer and the official has the right to retain them.

Student ID cards issued by schools, colleges and other institutions may be required as proof of entitlement to a student fare but the official has no authority or right to retain them. Should an official retain such and refuse to return it to you, this is theft and a complaint to the Gardai should be made.

Name, Address And Nothing More

Note you are under no obligation in law to give information such as a drivers licence, passport, bank card, phone number or details of a third party to verify your identity to the official (for under 18's claiming student fares a passport is a condition of such a ticket). Any such requests should be politely refused and a complaint made to the data protection commissioner as there is no lawful basis for this request.


Grounds for appeal are very limited, if you have been found with no ticket, or a ticket which is invalid for any reason you will be issued with a fixed penalty fine of €100 payable within;

  • 21 days on trains
  • 28 days on trams (reduced rate of €45 if paid within 14 days)

The only appeal which works is if you can state that you had no reasonable opportunity to purchase a ticket before boarding the train/tram.

Appeals should be made in writing to the address on the notice you received or in the case of Luas follow the steps on the luas website here within 14 days.

Possible valid grounds for appeal

  • I boarded at an unstaffed station (e.g. Broombridge)
  • Station was locked up, no access to ticket machine
  • Ticket machine broken, no booking office
  • Staff at station stated "pay at other end" due large queue
  • Forgot monthly/annual ticket or ID for same (ticket/id card within 14 days)

Invalid grounds for appeal

  • Queue was too long
  • Train was early
  • I was in a hurry
  • Overtravelled (unless where a scheduled stop was omitted)
  • I paid child fare because I couldn't afford adult fare
  • I'm a student but did not have the correct in date ID at the time of inspection
  • I had no cash only credit/debit card

Going to Court

Failure to pay the fixed penalty notice within 21 days (28 days on trams) will result in a court summons being issued. Maximum penalty before the courts is €1000 and/or up to 3 months in jail. Irish Rail and Transdev (Luas) have consistently obtained a 80%+ conviction rate in these cases.

If you are summoned to court you have limited options.

  • Offer to pay the original fine, ticket price for the journey involved plus an administrative fee, generally this is twice the original fine. This may work but there is no obligation to offer you this option
  • Go to court and make your case, representing yourself
  • Seek professional legal advice as to your options

First Class

You must have a valid first class ticket to travel in first class. You are not allowed to sit (or stand!) in first class if the train is full unless you have been verbally instructed to do so by an Irish Rail member of staff. On Dublin Belfast services you may 'upgrade' to first class by paying on-board.

If you find a first class coach or section on a train which is not listed as having such in the public timetable you may deem the coach to be declassified and open to all ticket holders. Passengers on services originating/terminating at Portlaoise should particularly note this as well on services via the Phoenix Park Tunnel.


Last Updated: January 12 2020 14:03:29
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