Northern is issuing warnings to relentless fare evaders with a promise that, once identified, they will be prosecuted for historic cases of fare evasion as well as for the journey for which they got caught.

The train operator's Debt Recovery & Prosecutions Unit (DRPU) will tackle offenders who show a 'proven pattern of behaviour' of repeated evasion, the scale of which will be outlined in court cases.

Due to 70 per cent of its tickets purchased online, Northern's Digital Fraud Investigations Team within the DRPU can scrutinise the circumstances of suspected fare evasion.

An increase in digital ticket usage prompted the creation of this team in 2021 to combat fare evasion.

Mark Powles, commercial and customer director at Northern, said: “Fare evasion hasn’t been as simple as people just not buying a ticket for quite some time.

“There are people who try to outsmart the system through a complex process of fraudulent refund requests, delay repay claims and a process known as ‘short faring’.

“What those people might not realise is that, as with any electronic transaction, our systems are able to identify suspicious activity and bring it to the attention of our specialist investigators.”

In the 2022-23 financial year, the team contributed to investigations into 108,681 fare evasion attempts.

The team's in-house prosecutors attended 301 court sittings in the same period, helping to secure 14,072 convictions and recouping £2.9m of lost revenue for the taxpayer.

Northern, the UK's second largest train operator, is recruiting a revenue enforcement delivery manager to clampdown on fare avoidance.

Applications end this Sunday, November 12.

Northern has issued the warning ahead of International Fraud Awareness Week (November 12-18), an event that highlights global efforts to reduce the impact of fraud on society.

Those who commit ticket fraud will be prosecuted under the Fraud Act 2006.

Other types of fare evasion are prosecuted under the provisions of the Regulation of Railways Act 1889 and the Railway Byelaws made pursuant to the Transport Act 2000.

Northern covers more than 500 stations with nearly 2,500 services a day.