Merseyrail has stepped up its "zero tolerance" approach by announcing that any passenger found travelling without a ticket will be fined.

Penalties of £20 are already issued on the spot to anyone found on a train without a ticket, with some exceptions at small stations without proper facilities.

Now from Monday, June 15, the existing penalty fare scheme will be extended to the entire Merseyrail network including the currently exempt stations of Bache, Capenhurst, Ellesmere Port, Little Sutton and Overpool.

Also, on the same date, the facility to buy a ticket from a guard on the train will be withdrawn.

Wirral Councillor Chris Blakeley, chairman of Merseytravel’s rail committee, said: "This is a simple campaign with the best intentions.

"Our zero tolerance approach to tackling crime on the rail network is paying dividends; it is central to what we are trying to do – and that is to create a world class rail network that is delivering excellent services, and one that is safe and clean.

"Those honest fare paying passengers travelling on the train, and I count myself among them, deserve that”.

A Merseyrail statement says: "The principle of the extended scheme is simple: buy a ticket at the station before you board a train or you are liable to be issued with a Penalty Fare of £20 plus the fare to your destination station by a ticket inspector.

"So the message is clear: Buy before you ride.”

New ticket machines and information points have been installed at stations where no staffed booking office is available.

Merseyrail claims research shows people who assault staff and commit vandalism are also often fare evaders.

From Monday, passengers found travelling without a valid ticket for their entire journey are liable to be issued with a penalty fare of £20 by Merseyrail ticket inspectors plus the fare to the passengers’ destination station if continuing their journey.

Bart Schmeink, Merseyrail’s managing director, said: “The vast majority of our passengers are law abiding, honest people who pay for their tickets. They should not be subsidising the few dishonest people who don’t buy a ticket and cause problems on our trains”.

“It is now very simple, if you haven’t bought a ticket at the station, you shouldn’t be on a Merseyrail train. And if you are, you will get a £20 penalty fare”.