The Rail Delivery Group have announced that train companies will be extending the offer of free train travel until the end of March for survivors of domestic abuse.
There are on average four survivors of domestic abuse using the scheme, and that the situation has worsened during the Coronavirus pandemic.
When restrictions are lifted, charities are expecting a surge in people with hundreds expected to take the train to reach a safe refuge.
Set up as a joint initiative between rail companies and Women’s Aid, Rail to refuge sees the train operators covering the cost of train tickets for women, men and children travelling to refuge accommodation.
The scheme was first introduced by Southeastern in 2019, followed by GWR in March 2020, with the remainder joining in April 2020. It has provided 836 free tickets issued since April, including 210 to children
Nicki Norman, acting Chief Executive of Women’s Aid said: “Women face huge barriers in leaving an abuser. Not only is it an extremely dangerous time, but many survivors have experienced years of economic abuse, which restricts their practical ability to escape. Women tell us that they simply cannot afford to leave because the perpetrator has controlled their money and they have none of their own. Many women and children escape to a refuge with nothing at all.
Thanks to the rail industry removing the financial barriers of travel, hundreds of women have left abusive relationships and been able to access safety. It is welcome news that this important initiative is being extended, especially as the COVID 19 pandemic continues to severely impact survivors of domestic abuse.”
Jacqueline Starr, Chief Operating Officer at the Rail Delivery Group, said: “We’re proud to have provided a vital lifeline for almost a thousand people escaping a desperate situation, but there are still too many women, men and children that need help. Our staff are working hard to support the survivors of domestic abuse with free train journeys while keeping the railway running for all the people, communities and local economies that rely on it.”
People who need to use the scheme can get in touch with Women’s Aid through their Live Chat service, open Monday – Friday, 10:00 am – 4:00 pm, Saturday and Sunday 10:00 am – 12:00 pm: on their website https://chat.womensaid.org.uk
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