Free sanitary towel and tampon vending machine at Birmingham Moor Street station copy, via Network Rail

Birmingham rail’s collaborative approach to tackling ‘period poverty’

All three of Birmingham’s major railway stations are improving the passenger experiences as they traverse the network, trialling a new scheme that is seeing free sanitary products being made available to combat ‘period poverty’.

Coming as a continuation after last year’s installation of a free sanitary pads and tampon vending machine at Birmingham New Street station, passengers across the city will now benefit from the same offering at both Birmingham Snow Hill and Birmingham Moor Street stations.

These sanitary products are sustainable in their nature, incorporating responsibly sourced bamboo and chemical-free materials free from toxins, bleach and other harmful materials.

Funding for this scheme has been provided by Network Rail, in partnership with the West Midlands Grand Railway Collaboration, bringing train operators from across the region together to progress societal standards within the rail industry and provide passengers with comfort and ease across their journeys.

Lucy Wootton, head of the Grand Railway Collaboration, said:

 “I’m proud that the Grand Railway Collaboration has brought together our three rail hubs to improve what we can offer to passengers.

“Ensuring free access to sanitary products for people out and about on the rail network is the right thing to do, so it’s great to be able to play a part in the fight against period poverty so close to International Women’s Day 2023.”

Denise Wetton, Central route director for Network Rail, operator of Birmingham New Street, said:

 “I’m pleased to work with our fellow station operators in this cross-industry effort to improve journeys for people in need of sanitary items while using Birmingham New Street station.

“We hope that making sanitary items free and convenient for passengers in all city centre stations will mean those who need them can travel in confidence.”

According to key studies, up to 10% of girls aged 14 to 21 in the UK do not have the financial freedom to afford appropriate sanitary items, due to the average annual cost of tampons and pads totalling a staggering £128, or just over £10 per month.

With One in seven female students relying on their friends to provide the requisite sanitary products, those involved with this collaborative scheme hope to break down the existing barriers between travel and period poverty, providing girls with autonomous travel in an accessible rail network.

Eleni Jordan, commercial and customer strategy director for Chiltern Railways, operator of Birmingham Moor Street, said:

“We are proud to be installing sanitary product dispensers at Birmingham Moor Street station in collaboration with our partners in Network Rail and the Grand Railway Collaboration. We hope that free, easy access to these products make our station a more comfortable and convenient location for customers who need them.

"Nobody should be held back from travelling because of period poverty. We are determined to remove this barrier and the introduction of free period products is a step in the right direction in ensuring that the region's rail network is accessible to all."

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