A 19-year-old has been slapped with a £276 court fine after buying a Trainline ticket to get home from work.

James Rawlings was given a fine at Liverpool Central station on October 23 despite having bought a ticket using The Trainline website for travel from Ellesmere Port to Liverpool. According to his dad Paul, he had not been able to print off the ticket to get home because the ticket office was closed that afternoon and there was no access to a ticket machine.

Paul said when James got to the barrier at Liverpool Central, he was given a fine but told this could be overturned on appeal. The next day the ticket office was still closed at Ellesmere Port but this time James took photos. However he was let through the turnstiles after showing his Trainline ticket that day.

Shortly after, the family received a penalty notice which they appealed. They didn’t hear anything back until a bigger fine came through the post. They appealed again sending it via next day recorded delivery.

The family, who live in Netherley, then said they received a letter from Manchester Magistrates Court with a fine saying the result of the court case was that James “failed to hand over a ticket for inspection and verification.” They had no idea that the case was going to court though the letters had warned court action may be taken.

Paul Rawlings told the Local Democracy Reporting Service (LDRS): “A lot of people wouldn’t be honest but he’s just a 19-year-old lad trying to get home from work,” adding: “He’s an honest lad and he thought he had done the right thing.

“It’s terrible. It’s absolutely terrible when he had a valid ticket. One guard lets him through and then the other day he gets a fine. Why aren’t they concentrating on the ones who aren’t paying anything? He paid full fare.”

He said: “It’s disgusting. It’s ridiculous that you have to have a printed ticket. Merseyrail didn’t give him any options to buy a Merseyrail ticket because everywhere was closed. How is he meant to get home?”

Paul said the family had also received no notice that the case would be going to court, adding: “I was quite shocked with this letter from the court because we had no idea. We were waiting for the appeal. We had heard nothing from either of them so we thought it was going through the appeal.”

Suzanne Grant, Chief Commercial Officer, and Deputy MD at Merseyrail said.“While we cannot comment on an individual case, customers travelling on the Merseyrail network must have a valid ticket for the journey they are making.

“This includes customers purchasing tickets from third parties like the Trainline. When someone buys a ticket in this way, they are given information that makes it clear that they need to print their ticket at one of our staffed stations before they travel. Unfortunately, we are unable to accept booking reference numbers as proof of travel, as many third-party retailers automatically issue a refund if their systems show the tickets have not been collected”.

“If a ticket office is closed, clear signage is displayed advising customers to purchase a ticket at their destination station. Systems are in place to ensure our staff, including those carrying out revenue protection duties, are aware of the closure”.

“An independent appeals service is available and can be used by anyone who believes they have been incorrectly issued with a penalty. We provide clear information on how to access the appeals service when the penalty is issued and again when we write to customers”.