Safety on trains for women – what do the rail companies have to say?

reading railway station by paul walterThere’s been a lot of discussion about train safety for women over the last week or so after the publication of statistics showing a rise in the number of sexual assaults on trains and the subsequent controversy over Jeremy Corbyn’s comments on women-only carriages.

However, we haven’t heard much from some very influential organisations about this, surprisingly so. The train companies themselves have been pretty silent.

Liberal Democrats Kelly-Marie Blundell and Daisy Cooper took to Twitter to question them.

When I asked Scotrail the same question, I at least got a response, albeit a bland one.

It’s a pity that they couldn’t have been more pro-active on this, though, and gone out of their way to reassure their many female passengers.

What do you think would make a difference to improve safety for women on public transport generally?

Photo of Reading Station by Paul Walter

* Caron Lindsay is Editor of Liberal Democrat Voice and blogs at Caron's Musings

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20 Comments

  • Simon McGrath 28th Aug '15 - 5:44pm

    we could even ask what they are doing to make carriages safe for everyone ?

  • Caron Lindsay Caron Lindsay 28th Aug '15 - 5:48pm

    Given that the stats released last week showed a marked increase in sexual assaults of women, it is legitimate that that point is addressed. How typical that the first comment on a post about women’s safety should be from a man saying a variation on the normal “but what about the men” theme. Reminds me of a picture I posted on Facebook yesterday.

  • Caron, your reply to Simon McGrath is almost sexist – imagine if a man had said ‘how typical, that a woman should say, what about women…’
    Am assuming that the opportunity for abuse to be of a sexual nature is what is fanning the ‘it’s worse for women’ argument, but surely if real steps were taken to make trains safe for everyone then women would benefit without us having to leave men (and children – do boys get to go in the safe women only carriages, or are what age are they to be cast out into the ordinary saloons?!) to it in the rough seats. And if the possibility of sexual abuse is not the main driver for this, then frankly proponents haven’t travelled on some of the trains that I have had to, since women can be just as violent as men!

  • Paul Kennedy 28th Aug '15 - 6:12pm

    As a father of two daughters I agree it is legitimate to worry about the safety of women on trains, and the increase in sexual assaults on women to nearly 400 requires specific attention. However, I think it is also legitimate in the context of the segregation debate for Simon McGrath to ask what the train companies are doing about everyone’s safety when the total number of violent crimes against passengers on London trains has risen by 8.5% to more than 5,000. Generic safeguards like CCTV and extra police on night trains potentially address both problems.

  • Eddie Sammon 28th Aug '15 - 6:25pm

    More cameras and security staff. We don’t need to “go big brother”, but there is clearly a problem and if we don’t tackle it then the segregators will win.

    We could employ them more during later hours too.

  • Simon McGrath 28th Aug '15 - 6:50pm

    Caron – it is really not a ‘what about the men ‘ comment. if trains are safe for women they will also be safe for men. There were 9,149 crimes of violence the person last year and 1,399 sexual offences. We need to tackle both sorts of crimes – which affect everyone
    http://www.btp.police.uk/pdf/BTP-%20Statistical%20Bulletin%202014-15.pdf

  • As the mother of a son and a daughter both in their late teens I want a safe environment for both of them when travelling on their own.

    And also for their friends of both genders.

  • Most of the trains I use are too crammed for guards to get up and down. Passengers are really stuffed into them during the rushhour. The conditions wouldnt be allowed for animal transportation. Ive seen passengers shoved from behind, been bashed, squashed and its unpleasant for anyone and probably unsafe for a pregnant person who may not be able to shield their baby. The train companies should take action on overcrowding and that would help everyone including women. Eliminating 1st class would free up space. Fining companies who dont send all the planned carriages in the rushhour would incentivise them to have enough rolling stock to cope with maintenence. Travelling by train is expensive and unpleasant for women and for men, we should do something to help all passengers.

  • Had I been the Scotrail person responding to Caron’s question I might well have asked “what are the specific issues for female travellers which do not apply to all passengers”?

  • Eddie Sammon 28th Aug '15 - 7:54pm

    Not every issue needs to be turned into a “what about the men” thread. It can come across as nit picking. We should be good, or Caron will blow a gasket and stick future threads on auto-mod. πŸ™‚

  • Eddie, I’m the first one to stick up for fellow women and pull male commentators up when they engage in ” what’s otters” as you’ll see from my previous posts whenever the subject of gender balance comes up. But we all have male and female friends and relatives and we wouldn’t want any of them harmed. So it’s just common sense to say ‘ let’s make public transport safe for everyone’ . If we make it about gender then we end up wasting time talking about segregation. And if women are segregated, who will the abusers pick on? Weaker or vulnerable men, one of whom could be any other woman’s son, brother, nephew, husband, uncle or father.

  • Teaching men and boys properly about entitlement, sexism, harassment and assault would be a start. In the short term, a dedicated variant of 999 or 101 for the British Transport Police, to be used only on trains or station/rail property and which could receive texts as well as calls, might help.

    I genuinely thought that the first comment was in jest on my first reading.

  • A woman travelling alone in a women only carriage late at night will be safer ???

  • kevin 28th Aug ’15 – 11:17pm ……..A woman travelling alone in a women only carriage late at night will be safer ???…

    As opposed to a woman travelling ‘alone’ with a gang of drunk young men?

  • Well said Phyllis, most women are also mothers, and implying that mothers don’t worry as much about the safety of their sons as their daughters is peculiar. There is a problem with safety on public transport, full-stop. Making this debate needlessly about gender prevents, rather than aids, progress.

    I increasingly think the solution will have to include CCTV on all public transport and some “making examples” of perpetrators.

  • Neil Sandison 29th Aug '15 - 10:42am

    The real issue is passenger safety when travelling .Corbyn has missed the point regardless of your sex or sexual orientation or disability you should be able to travel in safety on any mode of public transport be it a train ,bus or tube .assaults and worse have happened regardless of gender .The pink carriage solution is a bit like Labours pink van fiasco at the general election. Suggested to appease one section of our society and not recognising people can be vulnerable on unmanned trains that are not policed or patrolled .This is why removing train guards or not having transport police patrolling the networks is such a bad idea .Suggest the question to the transport providers is do you put profit ahead of passenger safety ?

  • Richard Easter 29th Aug '15 - 2:52pm

    It is DFT policy to remove guards from trains and run them Driver Only (DOO). Claire Perry the rail minister has stated it is much safer to run trains with sole responsiblity on the driver with no guards. Meanwhile First Great Western staff are striking this weekend precisely over the plan for all First Great Western services to go DOO once the 125s are retired.

  • ” Suggested to appease one section of our society and not recognising people can be vulnerable on unmanned trains that are not policed or patrolled .This is why removing train guards or not having transport police patrolling the networks is such a bad idea .Suggest the question to the transport providers is do you put profit ahead of passenger safety ?”

    This raises an important question: who funds the Transport Police? because we do have to ask is the problem wholly one for the train companies to solve or one which actually requires joined up thinking and working. But lets not let some clear headed thinking get in the way of bashing businesses…

  • nvelope2003 29th Aug '15 - 9:34pm

    Richard Easter: FGW say they are not removing guards but giving the driver the responsibility for closing the doors which obviously they could not do in steam days but can with modern door locking systems. As always this dispute is purely about money just as the dispute about the Nigh Tube is whatever the unions say. The details can be found in the railway press. I was on a train recently and the guard did nothing throughout the journey except stand in the vestibule near where I was sitting. As regards removing buffet cars who in their right mind would want to leave their luggage and walk to the buffet if there is a trolley service available?

  • Malcolm Todd 30th Aug '15 - 12:24am

    “if trains are safe for women they will also be safe for men”

    Indeed. Sadly the reverse is not necessarily true. That’s why this is a gendered issue. Most men just do not, ever, experience what most women have experienced on some occasion when travelling on trains. Recorded crime statistics are a red herring in this area.

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