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CrossCountry extends support of lifesaving Rail to Refuge scheme

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Scheme extension set to help hundreds more flee domestic abuse

Since its launch in April 2020, 1,348 have used the lifesaving scheme, equating to four people a day 1

CrossCountry has announced it is extending its support of the Rail to Refuge scheme, which offers free train travel to individuals fleeing domestic abuse.

The scheme, which has been developed in partnership with Women’s Aid and was due to come to an end this week, allows men, women or children escaping domestic abuse to apply for free train travel to refuge accommodation.

Train companies across Great Britain have been showing their support following the rise in such cases as a result of the pandemic. 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.2

Many survivors have experienced years of economic abuse, and it is unfortunately common for a perpetrator to control access to money leaving survivors with nothing .3 This restricts their practical ability escape from violent situation when they may have to travel considerable distances to get away from their abuser or because of a lack of local provision.  

Women’s Aid estimates that in 2019-20, refuge services in England supported 10,592 women and 12,710 children, but demand is even higher.4 

CrossCountry’s Managing Director, Tom Joyner said:

 “Sadly, there has been a rise in domestic abuse cases during the pandemic with many women, men and children fleeing their homes. Our support of the Rail to Refuge scheme is our way of helping those most vulnerable at this time. I am delighted to support the scheme’s extension and play our part in helping those in need.”

Transport Secretary Grant Shapps said:  

“I support every effort to counter the insidious and heinous crime of domestic abuse. Rail to Refuge has helped hundreds of survivors to reach safety by removing the financial barriers that prevent escape. "

“Extending this vital support is truly lifesaving and I thank all those working so hard to help keep people safe on our railways.” 

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: 

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: 6


For further information please contact:

CrossCountry - email: [email protected]

Notes to Editors:

CrossCountry’s network is the most geographically extensive passenger rail franchise in Britain. Stretching from Aberdeen to Penzance and from Stansted to Cardiff, it calls at over 100 stations. Based in Birmingham, CrossCountry connects seven of the Britain’s 10 largest cities and delivers 298 services every weekday, equating to some 40 million passenger journeys a year. 

For further information on CrossCountry services visit or follow them online via Twitter at @crosscountryuk or  

CrossCountry is part of the Arriva group, one of the leading providers of passenger transport in Europe. Arriva employs over 46,000 people and delivers over 2 billion passenger journeys across 14 European countries each year.


Notes to editors   

  1. Train operators provided 1,348 free train tickets as part of the Rail to Refuge scheme between 9 April 2020 and 14 March 2021. Survivors can access the tickets through the member services of Women’s Aid Federation of England (including Respect, which runs the Men's Advice line), Welsh Women’s Aid, Scottish Women’s Aid, and Imkaan, once they have received an offer of a refuge place.   
  2. Two-thirds of survivors identifying as currently experiencing abuse (66.7%, 46 out of 69 answering the question) told Women’s Aid that their abuser had started using lockdown restrictions or the Covid-19 virus and its consequences as part of the abuse. (Women’s Aid June 2020 Survivor Survey, reported in A Perfect Storm)  
  3. Nearly a third (31.9%) of survivors surveyed in 2018 said their access to money during the relationship was controlled by the perpetrator. (The Domestic Abuse Report 2019: The Economics of Abuse). In addition a 2015 report found that 52% of women surveyed who were living with an abuser couldn't afford to leave because they had no money of their own. (Unequal, Trapped & Controlled, Women's Aid and TUC).  
  4. In 2019-20 Women’s Aid estimates that refuge services in England supported 10,592 women and 12,710 children and community-based services supported 103,969 women and 124,762 children. Demand is still higher than the provision available, with 57.2% of refuge referrals declined during the year – 18.1% of all referrals were turned down due to lack of capacity in the refuge. (The Domestic Abuse Report 2021 : The Annual Audit)   
  5. Women’s Aid reported a 41% increase in users visiting its instant messaging Live Chat site within the first two weeks of lockdown in March 2020 and as a result extended its opening hours to 10am – 4pm daily. Respect, which runs the Men’s Advice Line, has increased service hours from 46 to 75 hours weekly to support male victims, after seeing a huge increase in demand since March 2020.  
  6. Any story about domestic abuse should refer to appropriate sources of help and support, including Helplines.   

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