The UK Government has called on railway stations to keep their ticket barriers shut as it clamps down on fare evasion.
“For the barriers to be left open would be bad enough in the days when things were better,” rail minister Huw Merriman said.
“To do so when I am fighting so hard with the Treasury to justify all of the investment we’re being given is madness.”
Data from the Office for Rail and Road reported a spending of around £21bn in 2020-2021.
Merriman has been in talks with the parent companies of train operators and all parties agreed to the need to “ensure the barriers are manned and closed,” the Telegraph first reported.
He also called to increase penalties for those who don’t pay.
According to the minister, fare evasion – which costs the taxpayer £240m a year – could lead to the Treasury cutting down funding for future projects.
“As far as I’m concerned, I own the revenue because ultimately, I know that if we don’t get the revenue in, the Treasury won’t give us the money to fund the projects we need.”
Merriman has recently made the headlines when he said the ongoing railway strikes were costing the UK economy £500m so far.
Commenting on the remarks, a Rail Delivery Group spokesperson said: “Fare dodging is simply unfair because it means less money to invest in improving services or keeping fares down for all our customers.
“That is why train companies invest in trained staff to identify and challenge fare evaders on trains and at certain stations.”