Vale of Clwyd MP Dr James Davies has welcomed news that the ‘Rail to Refuge’ scheme, which was due to end next week, is being continued by train companies to help more people escape domestic abuse and reach a safe refuge, and is keen to ensure that domestic abuse survivors in the area are aware of it.
Rail to Refuge is a joint initiative between rail companies and Women’s Aid in which train operators cover the cost of train tickets for women, men and children travelling to refuge accommodation.
Since April 2020, train operators have provided free tickets to 1,348 people, including 362 children over five, equivalent to four survivors travelling to safety each day on average.
Welcoming the extension of the scheme, James said:
“Free travel can be a lifeline for people fleeing abuse who may not have access to cash. Almost two-thirds (62%) of people who used Rail to Refuge said they would not have travelled if the journey had not been paid for.
“Reports show that abuse has worsened during coronavirus restrictions and it is therefore crucial that survivors of domestic abuse have the means to flee. I am therefore pleased that this successful scheme has been extended and encourage survivors of domestic abuse in the Vale of Clwyd to use it.”
Andy Bagnall, Director General of the Rail Delivery Group, said:
“Train operators have provided lifesaving travel to four survivors every day through the Rail to Refuge scheme, and it’s right that we keep it going for those who sadly still need it. Rail staff are continuing to work hard helping survivors of domestic abuse with free train travel, while supporting all our passengers to feel safe on their journeys.”
Farah Nazeer, chief executive at Women's Aid, said:
“Many women and children have to travel long distances to escape their abuser. There remains a serious shortage of refuge spaces, so it is vital that women are not prevented access to safety in a refuge by the cost of travel. In addition, many survivors have experienced years of economic abuse and will not have access to a bank, credit card or even cash. Women tell us that they cannot afford to leave because the perpetrator has controlled their money and they have none of their own.
“We are delighted that train companies have worked with us to remove a significant barrier to people escaping abuse. The Rail to Refuge scheme will continue to be lifesaving for hundreds of women and children, and it is incredibly welcome news that it has been extended."
Survivors of domestic abuse who would like to access the scheme, or need other support, can get in touch with Women’s Aid through their Live Chat service, open Monday – Friday, 10:00am – 4:00pm, Saturday and Sunday 10:00am – 12:00pm: https://chat.womensaid.org.uk
If you would like to contribute to help survivors access the lifesaving support they need and help them reach refuge, please make a donation today: www.womensaid.org.uk/rail-to-refuge.