"MY dog ate my train ticket" is a genuine excuse used to get out of penalty fares. 

Greater Anglia has revealed the range of excuses fare dodgers use for travelling without a ticket from “my dog ate my ticket” to “I never pay for travelling on the railway”.

The rail company’s revenue protection team regularly patrol trains across the Greater Anglia network, issuing in total between 4,000 to 6,000 penalty fares a month and prosecuting between 500 to 700 people in court.

Only passengers travelling without a ticket or any money or means to pay for a ticket are prosecuted in court.

People travelling with the wrong ticket – maybe on a child’s ticket or with a railcard discount when they don’t have a railcard – face a penalty fare.

Fare dodgers give many reasons for not having a ticket. A common excuse is people saying that they thought their Oyster Card was valid to stations beyond the cut-off point of Shenfield – even though there are announcements on trains and posters at stations stating this.

Other excuses they have heard include “my wife picked mine up”, “I have a funeral to go to”, “the ticket office was busy” and “I left it in my car”.

Kim Bucknell, Greater Anglia Head of Revenue Protection, said: “My team has heard all the excuses before. They use their discretion in deciding what action to take and have been trained to spot someone who is trying to either get away without paying or travelling on the wrong ticket.

“Not paying for a ticket results means there is less money to invest in our railway and that prices may go up even further for those who do pay.”