Arrive safe with these top tips.
There's a lot to love about winter; crisp mornings, spiced lattes, and festive celebrations. And with that comes our calendars filling up with evenings out. Although it’s an exciting time to be with friends, it can mean travelling home late at night alone.
With the days now shorter and the dark nights drawing in, it can heighten feelings of anxiety when travelling. So, to help ensure you feel prepared, West Midlands Trains (Operator of West Midlands Railway and London Northwestern Railway) Revenue Protection and Security Manager, Victoria, has pulled together some handy tips and advice covering all the things out there to help put you at ease this winter.
Save 61016 to your phone
Did you know…the British Transport Police (BTP) operates a 61016 text service that is there for you to use at any point during your journey on public transport. You can text this number if you are feeling unsafe, worried, or anxious about anything you have seen whilst travelling.
Once you have contacted this number, you will receive an acknowledgement from the BTP that they have received your message. They will then assign your text to a member of the team to deal with – so the more information you are able to provide, the quicker and more accurately they will be able to deal with your concern.
In most cases, you will be able to find this number on posters, in stations, and on trains, but why not save it to your phone under ‘British Transport Police’? That way you’ve got it to hand, should you ever feel you need it.
Did you know you can also contact the 999 emergency services by text from your mobile phone? In order to do this, you must register. So, be sure to drop ‘999’ a text saying ‘register’ – you will receive a reply with instructions to follow from there. A handy tip to note if you are ever in a situation where you can’t make a voice call.
There is a conductor on every train
Many people don’t realise that every one of our trains has a conductor on board, as well as the driver. So, rest assured that if your train is moving, your conductor is on the journey with you. If you’re travelling alone on a late-night train and would feel more comfortable sitting near a staff member, there is a simple way to locate your conductor.
At every station your train stops at, your conductor will check the platform is clear before getting back on and closing the doors ready for the next station. When you are boarding your train, look out for the staff member checking the platform and you can get on the same carriage as them. However, in addition to your conductor, and in case of an emergency, there is also an alarm that you can pull if you feel unsafe.
Download Hollie Guard
There are several free apps available to download onto your smartphone to help you feel at ease when reaching your end destination – such as Hollie Guard .
With various modes and settings available, the Hollie Guard app aims to provide enhanced levels of protection to the user. There are different modes that allow you to select what works for you based on your current situation:
- Plan your route: Set your start and end time before setting off, and your emergency contacts will be notified once you arrive safely at your chosen destination.
- Meeting someone new: Set an allotted time for your meeting with someone new, and your emergency contacts will be alerted if you don’t mark yourself safe before the time is over.
- Duress pin: In situations where you may have been forced to deactivate an alert, you can use the duress pin ‘9999’ to notify emergency contacts and prioritise the alert to emergency response teams.
- Reports: This allows you to report an incident quickly and easily with supporting photo evidence.
- Soft alert: With a few discreet presses of the volume button, an immediate alert can be raised, whether the phone is in a pocket or hand (Android only).
- Emergency contacts: Once an alert has been raised, your emergency contacts will be immediately notified on their mobile phone or by email.
If you have a walk home ahead of you, once you get off public transport, there are plenty of resources available to ensure you feel as at ease as possible whilst making this final part of your journey. The Strut Safe organisation will take the time to make sure you have made your way to your destination – whether it be home or your car – safe and sound. Available Friday and Saturday 7pm – 3am, and Sunday until 1am.
Perfect for making your way home after an evening at the Christmas markets, you can call 0333 335 0026 and a volunteer on the other line will stay and chat with you until you have reached your destination. This is a great way to keep yourself occupied whilst you’re making your journey home and will mean someone is there with you to help you get back safely.
Speak to staff
At every station, you can utilise one of the help points. They are easy to locate, clearly marked, and staff will be happy to help assist you to ensure you make your journey home safely. Whether it's journey information, help to find your platform, or you would like to speak to someone about a concern you may be having – the help points are always there to put your mind at ease.
In addition to this, and to continue our efforts in keeping passengers safe, we have been continually investing in our stations, with one of our most recent focuses on upgrading the lighting and CCTV at all of our stations.
As fun as this time of year can be, don’t forget to prep ahead. Simple things such as planning your journey, allowing plenty of time for any connections, and not aiming for the last train or bus so you have a backup if you get held up will all contribute to making your journey home as smooth as possible.
It’s always a good idea to keep an eye on your phone battery levels. If you’re starting to see your percentage is declining whilst out with friends, it might be worth holding off on the selfies for a while. Plus, if you keep a charger handy, you can always juice up a little bit with USB charging points now becoming more common in leisure venues and on public transport.
The key thing to remember this winter whilst celebrating Christmas and beyond is to be aware of the resources readily available to you; be prepared for your journey ahead and remember to have fun! We are always here to help.