What Happens if You Travel on a Train Without Tickets?


Many people worldwide rely on the railway system to get where they need to go, whether they’re going on vacation or to work. Train tickets can be bought online or at a manned station.

Traveling on a train without a ticket can result in being asked to buy a ticket on-board which will include an extra fee. You might receive a hefty fine, asked to get off at the next available station, or the police will be called to remove and possibly arrest you in some rare cases.

In this article, I’ll discuss what happens if you travel on a train without a ticket, why it’s always best to buy a train ticket in advance, train-hopping, and some more exciting train facts.

Possible Outcomes of Traveling on a Train Without a Ticket

Traveling on a train without a ticket is risky and can have various outcomes depending on the railroad and the conductor. Always apologize and be friendly towards the conductor as you are in the wrong, and being argumentative will only worsen your situation.

Here are some possible outcomes you might want to prepare yourself for:

  • If you don’t have a ticket and are caught, the conductor will most likely allow you to purchase a ticket on board. Sometimes buying a ticket on-board will include a penalty fee.
  • If you have no means of paying for a ticket, you may be offered the opportunity to pay later. In this instance, your information will be recorded and kept on record until paid. Don’t try to travel on a train again until your outstanding fee is paid, as you may be arrested.
  • If you don’t have money or the option to buy a ticket, you’ll be asked to get off of the train at the next stop. This could be highly problematic as you might not know where you are or have any way of getting back home or your destination.
  • Receiving a hefty fine is possible and can cost you between $250 and $1,000.
  • There’s also a chance that the conductor will alert the authorities and that you might be arrested and even charged for “theft” of services.

Can You Get on a Train Without a Ticket?

You can get on a train and travel without a ticket to your destination, but it’s not recommended. There’s a chance that the conductor might not ask to see your ticket, and you get away with traveling for free, but there’s also a big chance that you’ll be caught.

It’s risky to travel on a train without a ticket as it’s illegal, and although some conductors and railroads might be lenient, not all will be, and you’ll have to deal with the consequences if you’re caught.

Buying Train Tickets

It’s always best to buy your train ticket in advance, whether traveling across the country or going to your job. Booking your ticket in advance will ensure that you get to choose the best time and date for your trip and will usually cost you less. 

If you didn’t know that you were going to be traveling, it’s still best to see if you can book your ticket online as this will ensure that you don’t have to pay extra fees from boarding a train without a ticket.

Different Ways To Buy Train Tickets

The best and easiest way to buy a train ticket is online or using the Amtrak app. You can pay for your booking using your credit or debit card as well as PayPal and guest reward points.

If you don’t have the option of buying your ticket online, you can buy it at an Amtrak Quik-Trak kiosk or the station before boarding the train. You can also book your ticket by phone or through a travel agent.

Train Hopping

Train hopping is illegal and dangerous, but people are still doing it worldwide. Also known as train surfing, it means that people ride on the outside of a train.

It started many years ago and became popular after the American Civil war and people used to train hop as a means to get where they were going. There are still some poor and homeless people doing it today.

Train hopping has in recent years become an exciting activity for adrenaline junkies who also jump on and off moving trains. It is extremely dangerous as there are many factors to consider, not just being caught.

Anybody riding on the outside of a train, whether on the side or on the roof, is at great risk of injury or even death. Train hoppers have to be aware of their environment at all times and watch out for bridges, tunnels, other trains, power lines, and many more dangers that can harm them.

If a train hopper comes into contact with an electrical line, they’ll be electrocuted, which is a life-threatening incident. Train surfers can also lose limbs or be fatally injured by coming into contact with another train or any objects along the way.

It’s extremely dangerous to jump on and off a moving train, and if not timed correctly, it can lead to devastating results, such as the person falling underneath the train.

If, however, you manage to survive the journey without picking up any injuries, you still have to worry about being caught as well. Train hopping is illegal, and if caught, you can be fined or even arrested.

You can watch this interesting YouTube video if you want to learn more about train surfing:

Final Thought

Traveling on a train without a ticket is illegal and can lead to being asked to get off the train, fined, and even arrested. Buy your train ticket ahead of time to ensure that you get to your destination on time and save money.

You can buy a ticket online, with an app, or at the train station, and you can easily pay with a credit card or cash.

Traveling on a train without a ticket might look like a good option if you are out of money, but it might cost you more in the long run.

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