Organisations across the rail network came together last Friday 25 November to support White Ribbon Day, the annual campaign to end violence against women and girls.
White Ribbon’s mission is to prevent violence against women and girls by addressing its root causes, and the charity encourages everyone (especially men and boys), to make the White Ribbon Promise to never use, excuse or remain silent about men’s violence against women.
There was a flurry of support across social media for the campaign, from rail industry leaders including Network Rail, Rail Delivery Group and Women in Rail, as well as Train Operating Companies and community rail groups.
Andrew Haines, Chief Executive of Network Rail, said: “We fully recognise and support the importance of the White Ribbon Campaign. It is up to us as an industry to do all we can to ensure that women working and travelling on the rail network can do so free from the fear of violence.
“At Network Rail we are working towards developing a zero-tolerance approach to sexist or abusive behaviours for both our colleagues and our customers. We continue to provide training on how to spot the signs of abuse and are making sure we have the right support in place.”
Great Western Railway (GWR) unveiled a White Ribbon train at Paddington Station, joining the mission to end male violence against women and to celebrate the beginning of a three-year partnership with the charity.
GWR is now a White Ribbon UK-accredited company, and a number of GWR team members have also committed to becoming White Ribbon Ambassadors and White Ribbon Champions, encouraging men to get involved in the charity, through inspiring and informing through learning, conversations and social media.
Greater Anglia also showed its support for the campaign, with five of the company’s new trains bearing the White Ribbon logo to help raise awareness as they travel around the region.
Greater Anglia also spent time raising awareness of the rail industry’s Rail to Refuge scheme, which provides free travel for people fleeing domestic violence. Since March 2020, Rail to Refuge has seen train operators across the country provide free tickets to 3,118 people, including 874 children. 65% of people who used Rail to Refuge to date said they would not or could not have travelled if the journey hadn’t been paid for, with an average journey for recipients costing £73.
West Midlands Trains (WMT) teamed up with the Heart of England CRP to commission local artist Emily Pettitt to be part of a special journey between Leamington Spa and Nuneaton, where she produced striking window drawings representing the White Ribbon campaign.
Passengers on board were invited to add their own white ribbons to this unique piece of art, and WMT staff were on hand to provide passengers with more information surrounding White Ribbon Day, how they can get involved and where people can find help and support.
Malcolm Holmes, executive director of the West Midlands Railway Executive and chair of the Heart of England CRP, said: “We want to encourage men to speak out against violence towards women and girls to promote gender equality in all aspects of society, including the railway.
“It’s through awareness-raising campaigns like White Ribbon Day that we can make a real difference in our local community by calling-out and changing damaging behaviours. I’m pleased that the Heart of England CRP has been able to help make this important event happen.”
Jonny Wiseman, WMT Customer Experience Director, said: “I’m proud that West Midlands Trains is leading the way among the rail industry, alongside Network Rail to help change harmful attitudes and create safe cultures and environments for women and girls to live free from fear of violence. This year on White Ribbon Day, the rail industry and our community partners have come together to start playing as a team to end violence against women and girls. I hope our customers will join us in making the White Ribbon promise.”