Motorists who try to avoid paying for parking at railway stations in Sussex could have their cars clamped, under a new scheme by Govia Thameslink Railway (GTR).

The firm, which owns Southern Railway, is trialling the programme at some of its stations across the South East of England from September.

GTR have said the punishment is meant as a last resort, and only motorists who commit an offence and already have overdue unpaid penalties would be affected.

Karl McCormack, business development manager at GTR, said:

“We thank the vast majority of our passengers who adhere to the parking terms and conditions, but we have to address those individuals who frequently evade payment.

“We are testing whether clamping will help us to recoup outstanding payments, to ensure fairness for all passengers.

“We don’t want to clamp a single car, but if we have to we will use the money recovered to invest further in our station parking.”

A GTR spokesman said they would not specify which stations’ car parks would be included in the trial, to allow contractors to better target areas with more persistent offenders.

Warning signs have already been placed at those which may be chosen as part of the trial.

GTR are also installing automatic number plate recognition software across the region in a separate scheme.

More than 20 stations are being fitted with the new technology before the end of September, including Eastbourne, East Grinstead, Lewes, Polegate and Three Bridges.

Similar software has already been used at Haywards Heath station for several months and at Brighton for several years, according to GTR.

They said the system would allow those with season tickets to drive in, park and go without having to use a parking machine.

Those without would be able to make payments at a machine until midnight on the same day, or via phone, online or mobile app.

Karl McCormack added:

“The new number plate system will save our passengers valuable time, especially in larger car parks, with no need to walk back and forth to display a permit.

“All they need to do is enter their registration number at the payment point and walk straight on to catch their train.

“This is all part of the modernisation of our network and services to make travelling easier for our passengers.”