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Train operators to extend lifesaving travel scheme

Extension expected to help hundreds more domestic abuse survivors to reach safe refuge. Figures show 1,348 people have used the lifesaving scheme, equal to four survivors a dayScheme was introduced by all train operators during first lockdown, having been pioneered by Southeastern in 2019
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. The decision comes as figures show four survivors a day, on average, have been using the lifesaving scheme to access free train travel.  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.

 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: “Women face many barriers when escaping an abuser. Leaving your home because you and your children are not safe is a massive undertaking. Additionally, leaving the abuser is a dangerous time with a huge rise in the likelihood of violence after separation, so it needs to be done as safely as possible, with support from expert refuge services.  “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.” 
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