Public transport VR’s commuter trains are billed by a private collection company – Complaint to the Ombudsman

According to the complaint, the problem is that there has been a shift from legal inspection fees to private inspection fees, which are not known by law.

Logistics company A complaint has been made to the Parliamentary Ombudsman about VR’s activities. This concerns the ticketing of commuter trains.

From February conductors have been able to impose a surveillance fee of EUR 80 on VR’s commuter trains. Previously, only the inspectors of the Helsinki Region Transport (HSL) have been able to impose inspection fees on ticketless people, but this cooperation between VR and HSL ended at the end of last year.

Today, a conductor can ask a ticketless passenger to present their ID. The information on the supervision fee is then transferred to the collection company Uuva Oy, which takes care of invoicing the fee.

To the Ombudsman According to VR ‘s complaint, VR’ s problem is that there has been a shift from legal inspection fees to so – called supervisory fees, which are not known by law.

For the inspection fee in law it is well defined, for example, who is allowed to inspect the ticket. In the case of VR’s new practice, the ticket can be checked by a conductor who, according to the complaint, does not have the legal right to inquire about passengers’ personal data, unlike, for example, HSL’s inspectors.

“No one needs to tell VR employees about their identity. A ticket inspector should, but there are no legal inspectors on these trains, ”the complaint states.

Complaint did not come as a surprise, as a similar discussion has already taken place in connection with the announcement of the control fee, says VR’s Director of Local Transport Anu Punola.

According to him, the inspection fee is based on private law and thus differs from the inspection fee. The logic is that by stepping on a train, you agree that the ticket must be paid or a fine is promised.

“It is understood that its law is now to be tested.”

Punola emphasizes that the new control fee policy only applies to trains outside the HSL area. He is aware that conductors do not have the same right to request proof of identity as HSL inspectors.

“We have instructed the conductors that if a ticketless customer does not want to reveal their identity despite a request, they will be directed out of the train.”

VR: n in the Swedish version of the bulletin on trains, private inspection fees are referred to by the word control lever, which, however, means an inspection fee. In a complaint to the Ombudsman, this is considered misleading because they are two different things.

According to Punola, the Swedish word has not been deliberately chosen to be misleading. He thinks no better word has been offered.

In Finnish, he said, on the other hand, it has been accurate that a clear distinction has been made in communication between the control and inspection fees.

In addition the complainant sees a risk that VR’s activities will lead to a wider phenomenon in which private companies will be able to independently impose various charges on their customers and keep the revenue from them.

The complainant requests that the Ombudsman immediately suspend VR’s supervision fees and asks the police to investigate whether VR and the collection company Uuva have committed fraud or attempted fraud.

According to Anu Punola, the cooperation with Uuva has gone well. He recalls that it is in the interest of every customer who pays for their trip in practice that no one travels for free.

However, Punola does not speculate on what a practice like VR’s supervisory fee could lead to in other areas.

“For us, it is based on the well-known travel conditions of public transport. The trip must always be paid for. ”

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