ALMOST 450 people have been fined or face prosecution after a four-month crackdown on fare evaders on c2c trains.

Staff at the train company, backed by the British Transport Police, carried out a series of “showof force” operations to catch passengers who had not bought a ticket.

So far, 381 people have paid penalties for not having a valid ticket, costing them at least £20 each.

A further 65 people have been reported for possible prosecution, which could result in a fine of up to £1,000 being imposed in court.

The ticket-checking operation, conducted in addition to routine daily checks and undercover operations, targeted passengers throughout the day at stations along the c2c line, including Southend Central, Westcliff, Leigh, Benfleet, Pitsea, Basildon and Laindon.

Iain Palmer, c2c revenue protection and security manager, said: “We know the overwhelming majority of c2c passengers pay their way, and no one likes to be taken for a ride by fare evaders.

“That’s why we employ a range of tactics to catch the dodgers, from spot checks and undercover operations to these high-profile joint events with the police.

“Our message is simple – fare evaders are risking a fine, and possibly prosecution. Already, 450 people have found out it just isn’t worth taking that risk.”

Sgt Emma Weir, of the British Transport Police, based at Southend, said: “These joint operations with our partners at c2c have been regarded as a huge success and feedback from the public has been very positive.

“The initiative is predominantly aimed at combating public order and antisocial behaviour offences, as well as preventing crime and disrupting criminals.

“Officers made six arrests for drugs-related offences, with cautions being issued.”