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Train ticket forger told to repay £17,000 or face jail

A train passenger from Doncaster who used forged first-class rail and parking tickets totalling more than £17,000 to travel round the UK has been told to pay back the cash or face jail.

Stock photo Credit: Press Association

Mark Mason used computers at his home to create the forgeries, which he used to travel for more than two years, British Transport Police (BTP) said.

Suspicions about Mason were first raised in autumn 2013 when staff at Doncaster railway station spotted various discrepancies with parking tickets on the contract worker's black Vauxhall Meriva in the executive car park.

These included an expired ticket as well as tickets with the wrong colours, no date and time printed, incorrect emblems and the wrong price paid.

Mason was arrested in December 2013 when he returned his car and 10 more tickets were found in the vehicle which were believed to be forged.

BTP said a search of the defendant's home led to the discovery of forged travel and parking tickets, genuine tickets, glossy photographic paper, computers and printers, craft knives, scissors and a cutting board.

Forensic examination of the computer devices revealed that Mason had used the computers to produce forged travel and parking tickets.

Mason, 44, of Thorne Road, Hatfield, Doncaster, was convicted of fraud charges relating to 85 tickets, valued at £17,000, on September 16 2014 at Sheffield Crown Court, BTP said.

He was sentenced to six months in prison, suspended for two years and ordered to undertake 240 hours of unpaid work and a 12-day restorative justice course.

The force confirmed that a judge at a proceeds of crime hearing last week ordered Mason to pay £17,884 over six months. Failure to pay will result in a default sentence of 12 months in prison.

The offences were committed between March 24 2011 and December 19 2013.

Detective Constable David Williams said: "This sentence sends a clear message to anyone thinking of trying to evade payment of train fares and/or parking that it really isn't worth it.

"Mason must now pay back all the money he thought he had saved with his fraudulent behaviour or face serving a prison sentence."

Free Wi-Fi for rail commuters

Rail passengers will benefit from free Wi-Fi on trains across England and Wales from 2017, Rail Minister Claire Perry announced today.

Train operators are being asked to set how they will meet the commitment to provide this important service for passengers. All train operators bidding for new franchises and direct award agreements will have to include this specification in their bid.

Where there is no new franchise agreement due in the next two years, almost £50 million of funding will be released from the Department for Transport to ensure Wi-Fi is available on selected services from 2017, including services operated by Great Northern.

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Anyone spotted on the tracks could face a prison sentence or hefty fine - as Hannah Stokes reports.

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In northern England, trains run by First TransPennine Express between Manchester Airport and Leeds were among those delayed by a signalling problem near Manchester.

Northern Rail was also affected, with delays between Manchester Piccadilly station and Leeds.

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There will be a demonstration at Doncaster railway station today in support of the Keep East Coast Public campaign.

Today has been designated as a National Day of Action across the stations on East Coast Trains's route from London to Edinburgh, a number of which are in Yorkshire.

It is currently run by the government on a not-for-profit basis after private owners pulled out in 2009. But the bidding process for a new contract is now underway.

The government says its running of the franchise was always a temporary measure. Campaigners claim it has been successful, both financially and in terms of customer satisfaction, so should remain in public ownership.

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