Rail franchises operators & contracts

11.05.20

‘Rail to Refuge’ scheme continues to provide support during lockdown

The ‘Rail to Refuge’ scheme which was launched at the beginning of April, has provided travel to 53 people escaping domestic abuse during lockdown. The scheme aims to provide support to people during the outbreak and train operators are encouraging people again this month to share information about the scheme.

In a joint effort with Women’s Aid, train operators are covering the cost of train tickets for anyone travelling to refuge accommodation while coronavirus measures are in place.

Since the imitative was launched, on average 2.5 people every day have been able to make a free journey to a safe refuge. A quarter of those have been children.

‘Rail to Refuge’ was first launched by Southeastern in September 2019, after one of the station managers, Darren O’Brien, watched a Dispatches documentary about Reigate and Banstead Women’s Aid.

GWR joined the scheme at the beginning of March this year as part of its celebration of International Women’s Day.

Women’s Aid have reported, since the beginning of lockdown, a 47% increase in demand for Live Chat. People experiencing abuse may not have access to cash as free travel can be an important lifeline. More than half of people who booked through ‘Rail to Refuge’ wouldn’t have travelled if the journey wasn’t paid for.

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Chief Operating Officer, Jacqueline Starr, said: ““We want to do whatever we can to help people out of desperate situations during these unprecedented times. Our staff are working hard to ensure that the railway can keep on running for necessary journeys as well as providing a lifeline for victims of domestic abuse in communities up and down the country.”

Acting Chief Executive of Women’s Aid, Nicki Norman, said: ““We’re delighted that our Rail to Refuge scheme is removing this barrier and is allowing women to travel to the safety of a refuge without the difficulty, and sometimes impossibility, of booking and paying for their own travel.

“When escaping from domestic abuse, taking those first steps can be the most difficult and such a stressful time. We thank train companies for helping to make that first difficult step much more accessible to women, particularly during the crisis when women experiencing domestic abuse are facing unimaginable isolation.”

Image: Rail Delivery Group 

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