Victims of domestic violence can now get free train travel when fleeing abuse, under a new ‘rail to refuge’ scheme.
Southeastern and Great Western Railway (GWR) are the first train lines to get on board with the initiative, which is supported by Women’s Aid’s - a charity tackling domestic violence against women and children across the UK.
Victims in the south of England, West Midlands and south Wales will be the first to benefit from the new scheme.
How does the rail to refuge scheme work?
Women and girls who seek refuge services can contact Women's Aid or another domestic abuse helpline or local outreach service, and the free train ticket will be arranged on their behalf.
Free train tickets can be arranged for victims for journeys starting or ending at a Southeastern or GWR station.
However, their website advises that “Women’s Aid is not an emergency service. If you think you might be in danger, call the police immediately on 999.”
Who created the scheme?
The initiative was proposed by Southeastern station manager, Darren O’Brien, after he watched a Dispatches documentary about Reigate and Banstead Women’s Aid. It was then rolled out by Southeastern in 2019.
Speaking about his idea, O'Brien said, “I was extremely moved by the Dispatches documentary and asked whether we at Southeastern could do anything to help.
“When we introduced the ‘rail to refuge’ scheme last year, we knew that it was only a small thing for us but would make an enormous difference to women escaping domestic abuse. It’s fantastic that other train operators are following in our footsteps.”
Women’s Aid, the charity supporting the initiative, is now aiming for more train operators to take part.