Train companies across the UK have announced that they will provide free travel to all those fleeing domestic abuse during the ongoing coronavirus crisis. ‘Rail to Refuge’ is a joint initiative with Women’s Aid, and is a vital offer of support to those most in need. As Transport Minister, I am extremely pleased that our national network of rail operators has implemented this measure to protect the vulnerable.
The number of requests for help from victims of domestic abuse has risen since social distancing measures were introduced in the UK, and it remains the case that home is simply not a safe place for everyone. Those suffering abuse at home are usually advised to seek refuge services as far away as possible from their perpetrator. Unfortunately, a proportion of victims have no access to cash or payment methods.
This new, industry-wide initiative will see train operators cover the cost of train tickets for anyone applying for free train travel to refuge accommodation, and follows successful similar schemes by companies including GWR which were created before the coronavirus outbreak.
From today, people can access these free tickets through the member services of Women’s Aid Federation of England, Welsh Women’s Aid, Scottish Women’s Aid and Imkaan, once they have received an offer of a refuge place. Members of these organisations can book the tickets via a bespoke booking system for the people they are referring to, or receiving in, their refuge accommodation. The nationwide ‘Rail to Refuge’ scheme will be in place for 12 weeks initially, and extended to match the length of the social distancing period if required.
If you want to find out more about this scheme, you can read a press release by Rail Delivery Group here. If you have any further questions, please contact RDG’s Public Affairs team at firstname.lastname@example.org.