NEARLY 42,000 penalty fare notices have been issued by rail operator Northern in the past year.

And the company, which runs services on the Airedale line, attended 172 court sittings related to fare evasion.

But Northern says the fare-dodging figures are at a record low.

The data, for the 12 months between April 1, 2023, and March 31 this year, shows that ticketless travel accounted for just three per cent of total journeys made on the Northern network.

Mark Powles, the company's commercial and customer director, says: "The reality is that fare dodgers expect the taxpayer to pick up the tab for their journey – and that’s just not on.

"The rail industry receives a great deal of public subsidy and we have a responsibility to do everything we can to reduce the figures – starting by ensuring everyone pays their way.

"Clearly, with around 97 per cent of people boarding our trains doing the right thing and buying a ticket for their journey, they are with us on this issue."

In 2023-24, a total of 57,302 reports of attempted fare evasion were investigated by Northern, and 41,922 penalty fares issued. With court cases too, £3.97m of revenue was recovered.