Women fleeing domestic abuse to get free train travel

Wednesday 04th March 2020

A new partnership launched today, and in time for International Women’s Day, will provide help for women and men fleeing an abusive relationship and travelling to safety at a refuge.


The inability to travel away from an abusive home and a lack of freely available cash are some of the ways women continue to be trapped. Now, the ‘rail to refuge’ collaboration between Women’s Aid and Great Western Railway will offer free rail travel for those fleeing domestic violence and who are travelling to a refuge.

Whether it is due to limited places at women’s refuge or the need to move them away from their perpetrator, some have to travel a considerable distance to be able to find safety. This new alliance will allow women and their family to travel on GWR trains as they seek shelter.

Adina Claire, acting co-CEO of Women’s Aid, said:

“We’re delighted to launch the ‘rail to refuge’ scheme to support women fleeing domestic abuse. Access to cash is a major barrier for women escaping an abusive partner, and free train travel will be one less thing for these women to worry about at a time of acute crisis.

“I’d like to thank Great Western Railway for supporting this initiative, and encourage other rail companies to contact Women’s Aid if they’d like to join the scheme and help us support women fleeing domestic abuse.”

The scheme includes Women’s Aid, Wales Women’s Aid as well as the sister organisation Imkaan, who support black and minority ethnic woman across the UK.

A special supportive pin badge has also been designed, and GWR will make a financial donation to Women’s Aid and Welsh Women’s Aid in recognition of the work they do providing life-saving services.

GWR Business Assurance Director Joe Graham said:

“The railway is much more than trains and rail track; it is about supporting the communities that it serves.

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

The scheme will be administered by Woman’s Aid; and is open to women who need travel to an already agreed place at a refuge.

When a woman or man fleeing domestic abuse secures a place in a refuge, they will be asked if they require any assistance in travelling to the refuge. If so, and if it is possible to make the journey in question on a GWR service, the refuge will contact GWR who will then issue an e-ticket to the refuge who, in turn, will pass this onto the woman.

International Women’s Day, on Sunday 8 March, is a focal point in empowering equal rights. As well as launching this new partnership, GWR will also name a train on Friday 6 March after Odette Hallowes, a Special Operations Executive and the most decorated spy of the war.

The train is planned to subsequently operate its first passenger service after the naming ceremony with an all-female crew.


Notes to editors

Great Western Railway (GWR) provides high speed, commuter, regional and branch line train services. We help over 100 million passengers reach their destinations every year - across South Wales, the West Country, the Cotswolds, and large parts of Southern England.

We’re currently seeing the biggest investment in the network since Brunel so we can offer more trains, more seats, and shorter, more frequent journeys and continue the network’s heritage of helping connect more businesses to new and prosperous markets. Through a series of initiatives we aim to be a good neighbour to the communities we serve and are committed to making a positive social impact in those regions. Learn how we're Building a Greater West at GWR.com. GWR is a FirstGroup company.