An expectant mum has been threated with jail and ordered to pay more than £600 after she failed to pay a £2.30 train fare because the ticket machine was broken.
Lauren Bolt, 23, who is 16 weeks pregnant, has been trying to save for the arrival of her baby and says she had a "complete breakdown" after receiving a letter from Cardiff Magistrates Court ordering her to pay £616.30 before the end of this week.
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And Lauren's letter states that failure to pay the full amount before Friday, February 10, could result in an arrest warrant for her to appear in court or an increase of the fine by 50%.
If the fine remains unpaid the court could sentence her to prison for non-payment.
Lauren, who is from Barry and now lives in Llanrumney in Cardiff, was making her way to work travelling from a friend's house in Grangetown to Cardiff Bay and said she had the exact amount of money and her card on her but the ticket machine was out of order.
The letter was sent to Lauren's parents' address and she told Wales Online: "I went straight down to get it and for them to show me such a high amount and giving me a few days to pay it is bang out of order.
"I'm 16 weeks pregnant and I have been trying to save for my baby. I've got a lot of things to buy, fix my phone, bills, even trying to move into my own home, and it's made me feel depressed.
"I burst into tears. This just put so much pressure on and caused me to have a complete breakdown. I've had nothing else from them, no phone calls, no nothing, just this letter that seems so threatening."
Lauren said she could not find a ticket collector on the first train to Cardiff Queen Street and when she got on the next train between that station and Cardiff Bay she said she could see a ticket collector at the other end of the train but was unable to make her way through the crowd because there was "just no room to move".
She added: "I knocked on the driver's doors and no one answered me and I had to quickly jump off because the doors were starting to close. I wasn't the only one – I remember there being a lady there as well and we were both looking for the ticket man at the same time."
In total Lauren was fined £440 and ordered to pay costs of £130 plus a victim surcharge of £44 and £2.30 in compensation.
In one day at the court last week a total of £10,694.90 was issued in fines and charges to people who travelled on a train without paying for a ticket.
Most of the fines – with other court-ordered payments including compensation, costs and surcharges added – were higher than £600 with the highest penalty being £618.40 and the lowest fine coming to £75.
An Arriva Trains Wales spokeswoman said: "We would like to remind customers that it is their responsibility to buy a valid ticket for the date and time of their journey.
"If ticket-buying facilities are available at the station they are travelling from, customers must buy their ticket before they board.
"If they are not available they should buy their ticket from the conductor on board.
"It's never been so easy to buy a ticket – in fact tickets can also be bought in advance from our website and on our smartphone ticket app.
"For those caught travelling without a valid ticket or have failed to activate a mobile ticket there are consequences – as highlighted by these recent court prosecutions and fines, the fines could in theory be anything up to £1,000."
She said Arriva Trains Wales only receives the ticket cost of the journey and administrative costs.