British Transport Police join Avanti West Coast to host virtual reality experience at Crewe station as part of campaign to combat sexual harassment on the railway

Avanti West Coast hosts VR experience to help people spot and tackle unwanted sexual behaviour

Avanti West Coast joins industry partners to host VR experience to combat sexual harassment on the railway. 

  • Immersive virtual reality (VR) experience on show at Crewe station is latest event to help combat sexual harassment on railway
  • Event provides advice and tips for public to safely intervene in situations
  • Industry partners highlight role they play in keeping people safe when travelling

Avanti West Coast joined industry partners to host an immersive virtual reality (VR) experience at Crewe station to help combat sexual harassment on the railway.

Teaming up with Rail Delivery Group (who represent train companies) and British Transport Police (BTP), the intercity operator demonstrated how passengers can take small actions to make customers feel safe on the network.

Designed to equip bystanders to recognise and tackle all forms of sexual harassment, the event gave passengers the opportunity to experience a short VR film and speak to rail staff about reporting unwanted behaviour.

It is part of a campaign that aims to educate people, empower them to intervene and safely report perpetrators by providing advice and tips, as well as illustrating small actions that can be made by bystanders.

By highlighting how situations can develop and what can be done to prevent escalation, it is hoped to encourage bystanders to do something meaningful to help targets of sexual behaviour before police or rail staff can be involved.  

It is the latest in a series of nationwide events to highlight the rail industry’s efforts to tackle sexual harassment, and its commitment to helping people feel safe onboard trains.

A survey by UN Women UK revealed that sexual harassment is a real and far-reaching issue with seven in ten (71%) women in the UK having experienced some form of sexual harassment in a public space.

Crewe is the first station in North West England to offer the immersive VR experience , as part of the industry campaign, which Rail Delivery Group continue to work on closely with experts and partner organisations.  

Amulet Safeguarding and Security Officers (who provide support across Avanti West Coast’s network) joined representatives from Railway Children and Samaritans charities, as well as the intercity operator’s Railway Chaplain to raise awareness of the help they offer to everyone travelling on the West Coast Main Line. 

The event follows Avanti West Coast achieving Safeguarding on Rail Scheme accreditation for its efforts to protect vulnerable young people and adults at risk on its network.

Natalie Richbell-Beer, Safeguarding and Crime Manager at Avanti West Coast, said: “We want everyone to feel safe when travelling on our network and are committed to tackling the issue of unwanted sexual behaviour on the railway.

“The VR experience is a great tool for equipping people to safely intervene and report incidents without coming to harm. By educating people on these behaviours and highlighting the role they can play we hope to encourage them to make a meaningful difference if they come across anything that makes them feel uncomfortable when travelling.”

Jacqueline Starr, Chief Executive of Rail Delivery Group, said: “At Rail Delivery Group we are committed to making sure all of our customers feel safe on our railway. This campaign is about raising awareness of the small interventions that can make a big difference. Through the rollout of our immersive VR experience at stations nationwide, we’re equipping individuals with the tools to intervene safely as bystanders before the police or rail staff get involved.

“Whether witnessing or experiencing anything that makes you uncomfortable, we urge everyone to report incidents promptly to the British Transport Police via text or 61016 or the Railway Guardian app.

“Everyone travelling on Britain’s railways has the right to feel safe and empowered to speak out against such behaviours.” 

Customers who see something that makes them feel uncomfortable can report it to British Transport Police by texting 61016 or via the Railway Guardian app.

To watch the full VR film, visit the National Rail YouTube channel here.


Contact Information

Laura Normansell

Avanti West Coast


Notes to editors

Main image: British Transport Police joins Avanti West Coast to host virtual reality experience at Crewe station as part of campaign to combat sexual harassment on the railway

About Avanti West Coast   

Avanti West Coast, operator of intercity rail services on the West Coast Main Line, is a joint venture between FirstGroup and Trenitalia, delivering a cleaner, greener railway that drives the West Coast forward.

We’re on a mission to revolutionise train travel. Our refurbed Pendolinos are returning to the rails, with a £117m investment that’s delivering best in class comfort. Rebuilt using sustainable materials wherever possible, including tables made from recycled plastic bottles, our upgraded fleet offers 25,000 brand new seats, free Wi-Fi, onboard recycling and much more.

New Hitachi trains are set to replace our Voyager trains from 2024, leading to a 61% cut in carbon emissions. Quieter and roomier, with more reliable Wi-Fi, wireless charging for electrical devices and a real-time customer information system, the new 23-strong fleet is the result of a £350m investment in sustainable travel.

We’re tackling climate change wherever we can, from reducing energy and water use to training drivers in eco-driving techniques and sourcing food and drink from local suppliers. Our goal is to be net zero carbon by 2031. We’re on track.

For the latest news, visit the Avanti West Coast Media Centre: https://newsdesk.avantiwestcoast.co.uk/

Press Office: 0845 000 3333