West Lancashire MP Rosie Cooper has tabled an Early Day Motion (EDM) in the House of Commons, recognising rail companies’ support for those experiencing domestic abuse and raising awareness of the scheme.
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.
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.
All train operators in Great Britain took up the initiative on 9 April 2020, initially for the length of the first lockdown, before extending it until the end of March 2021.
Train companies have now decided to continue Rail to Refuge as reports show that abuse has worsened during coronavirus restrictions. Two-thirds (67%) of survivors currently experiencing abuse say that their abuser has started using lockdown restrictions or the Covid-19 virus and its consequences as part of the abuse.
West Lancashire MP Rosie Cooper said:
“The Rail to Refuge scheme is a fantastic commitment from rail companies to support women, men and children who sadly experience domestic abuse and must flee their home or abuser in order to gain safety.
“Working with Women’s Aid, the Rail Delivery Group which is made up of train operators, took up the initiative 12 months ago to provide free travel for those escaping their abuser, many of whom have experienced economic abuse where the perpetrator controls the survivor’s access to money.
“Survivors who need to access this support are encouraged to do so in a safe way, by initially making contact with a domestic abuse service at womensaid.org.uk or phoning the National Helpline on 0808 2000 247.”
You can find Rosie Cooper MP’s Early Day Motion 1749 here: https://edm.parliament.uk/early-day-motion/58382