'Laughing at us' - Man arrested at Central over train ticket despite spending £120 on journey

Alex Lennon was stopped by Merseyrail staff at Liverpool Central and detained by the British Transport Police.
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A man was arrested at Liverpool Central station for failing to provide a valid ticket for travel despite shelling out more than £100 for a return trip to London.

When Alex Lennon bought a ticket at Waterloo Merseyrail station via the Trainline app for a return journey to the capital for a business meeting on Wednesday, he thought this was a perfectly acceptable transaction. However on arrival at Liverpool Central station, Mr Lennon was stopped by Merseyrail staff who said he had travelled on the network without a requisite ticket.

A lengthy exchange led to the businessman being detained by the British Transport Police despite paying £121 for a return journey that day.

Officers told Mr Lennon his confirmation of payment for the journey from The Trainline was not enough to enable passage through the barriers and in using the third party app he had accepted the terms and conditions which require a physical ticket to be available for travel.

Mr Lennon took to social media to document the exchange with Merseyrail staff and police officers. Both explained to him that a ticket was required for travel from Waterloo to Liverpool Central before boarding the train.

Mr Lennon said: “I was in a bit of a rush and was concerned I’d miss my connection at Lime Street so I jumped on the train. I’d paid for my ticket and figured common sense would prevail. When I tried to get through the barriers at Liverpool Central, I was told I needed to print the ticket before I travelled and that I’d broken the rules by not doing so. I don’t think that’s reasonable.”

Videos posted by Mr Lennon show him being stopped by Merseyrail staff at Liverpool Central, where he is told he does not have a valid ticket for travel and his Trainline confirmation is not suitable.

A later video shows Mr Lennon being told he is being arrested for the offence of not having a valid ticket for travel and that his reference number for the booking from Waterloo to Reading was not acceptable.

Alex Lennon spent more than £100 on his journey but didn't have a physical ticket - "I thought common sense would prevail"Alex Lennon spent more than £100 on his journey but didn't have a physical ticket - "I thought common sense would prevail"
Alex Lennon spent more than £100 on his journey but didn't have a physical ticket - "I thought common sense would prevail"

Where a passenger is travelling using a booking reference number for a ticket purchased from a third party, Merseyrail urges passengers to ensure that they have a physical ticket in their possession before boarding services, and this is made clear at the point of purchase.

The operator does not currently have the technology needed to validate electronic tickets and as a result, cannot accept them.

When asked if he could go through to print his ticket at the nearby machine in the station, a British Transport Police officer told Mr Lennon he had already passed the point whereby he should have had a valid ticket for travel.

Mr Lennon, who was travelling south for a meeting to secure business funding, said: “I refused to give my details and I don’t believe they had a leg to stand on because there was no intention on my part to defraud Merseyrail. They wouldn’t let me through to print my ticket off which meant I was late for my meeting, which was embarrassing.

“I wasn’t trying to fare dodge, I was trying to get from A to B. I object to the assertion I was some sort of thief. I know they don’t want cars coming into the centre of Liverpool but in future I’ll have to drive in. I accept I should’ve printed the ticket but I was running because I was late.”

After refusing to comply with station staff, Mr Lennon was cautioned and interviewed at the station before being de-arrested and allowed to print his ticket and carry on the journey.

He said the whole episode, which he described as “immensely difficult,” ended up taking around 90 minutes. He added: “It was quite a nice chat once we got over the nasties. My friends down south are laughing at us, the system is so outdated.”

Merseyrail declined to comment. The British Transport Police was contacted for a response.