UK rail networks introduce new scheme to support victims of domestic violence

uk rail networks womens aid free train scheme domestic violence victims
(Image credit: Getty)

UK rail networks are introducing a new scheme to support victims who have suffered from domestic violence.

Two major rail networks have launched a programme where women who are attempting to flee an abusive environment will be able to travel for free in order to reach refuge accommodation safely.

Great Western Railway (GWR) and Southeastern have partnered up with a number of women’s charities to implement the initiative.

The Rail to Refuge scheme, which is run by domestic violence charity Women’s Aid, will enable women to seek a shelter further away from their local area.

MORE: Domestic abuse - the signs to look out for and where to find help

Welsh Women’s Aid and Imkaan, a charity that supports victims of different ethnic minorities, have also joined forces to help assist the programmed.

Victims are generally advised to flee to accommodation that is further from their home in order to make it more difficult for them to be found or pursued.

However high travel costs can make this difficult or near to impossible, especially if victims are experiencing financial abuse – a situation where a victim’s finances are being controlled by someone else so that they are unable to procure any money of their own in order to escape.

uk rail networks womens aid free train scheme domestic violence victims

Station manager for Southeastern, Darren O’Brien, first came up with the idea for the scheme after he watched a Dispatches documentary about Women’s Aid in Reigate, Kent.

“Access to cash is a major barrier for women escaping an abusive partner,” said Adina Claire, Acting co-Chief Executive of Women’s Aid, “and free train travel will be one less thing for these women to worry about at a time of acute crisis.”

MORE: Duchess of Cornwall speaks out in support of domestic abuse victims

“The railway is much more than trains and rail track; it is about supporting the communities that it serves,” added Great Western Railway Business Assurance Director Joe Graham.

“Many of those trapped are unable to flee from their abusers because they have no means by which to do so,” he continued. “Now, with what is such a simple idea, we are able to help provide that means.”

For more information on Women’s Aid refuges, please visit or freephone the 24 Hour National Domestic Violence Helpline on 0808 2000 247.

Aleesha Badkar
Aleesha Badkar

Aleesha is digital shopping writer at woman&home - so whether you're looking for beauty, fashion, health or home buys, she knows all the best places to splash your cash. She earned an MA in Magazine Journalism from City, University of London in 2017 after graduating from University of Leeds in 2014 with a BA in English and Spanish (which took her to Madrid for a fun Rioja and tapas-packed year). Aleesha has worked for woman&home since 2019, when she joined the team as their digital news writer. A year on the news team gained her quick and reactive writing skills and a love for breaking stories, invaluable insight into where to get the best lifestyle releases first, an AOP awards nomination and the nickname ‘crazy watch lady’ after she became so obsessed with the royals that she followed breaking news alerts on her Apple Watch.

Before joining the woman&home team, Aleesha wrote for their sister site GoodtoKnow, where she covered celebrity news, health advice and where to snap up the cheapest lifestyle buys. With a background in beauty, Aleesha has also written for Stylist and Women’s Health where she developed an understanding into what makes a stellar product and which brands are worth paying attention to. She never leaves the house without a slick of lip balm and a good slathering of SPF, cannot live without an eyelash curler by her side and is always on the hunt for new lipsticks to add to her ‘Lipstick of the Day’ Instagram story highlight (and color-coordinated collection).

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