Rail industry creates immersive VR film to show passengers at Edinburgh Waverley station how they can help to combat sexual harassment

  • Immersive VR experience, designed to empower bystanders to recognise and help combat sexual harassment on the railway, on show today at Edinburgh Waverley station. 
  • Demonstrating how a small action could make a big difference is important - 85% of women would feel relieved if someone intervened when experiencing sexual harassment on public transport.  
  • This is the latest in a series of nationwide events aimed at providing advice and tips on how bystanders can safely intervene and report a situation before police or rail staff are able to get involved.  

As part of the rail industry and British Transport Police's continued commitment to make sure every passenger feels safe when travelling by train, an immersive virtual reality (VR) experience is coming to Edinburgh on Thursday 16th November.  

The event is aimed at tackling all forms of sexual harassment by educating people to recognise how these situations occur for passengers and empower them to intervene safely and report perpetrators.   

Sexual harassment is a real and far-reaching issue in society with seven in ten (71%) women in the UK having experienced some form of sexual harassment in a public space, the latest survey commissioned by UN Women UK finds.    

The short VR film shows how small actions, such as asking the victim if they want to swap seats or distracting the perpetrator with a question, can prevent further escalation in the moment.   

Following a successful initial launch of this innovative VR film earlier this year at London Waterloo station, Rail Delivery Group (RDG) together with British Transport Police (BTP) and local train operators are inviting people in Edinburgh to try the immersive VR experience in their local station. 

Jacqueline Starr, Chief Executive of Rail Delivery Group said: “As an industry we are actively tackling all forms of sexual harassment and are committed to making our passengers feel safe when onboard. 

“By showcasing the ground-breaking VR experience in stations across the country we’re to equipping people with tips on how to safely intervene in situations as a bystander without putting themselves in harm’s way. Whether you see it or experience it, we ask everyone to report anything that makes you uncomfortable to British Transport Police by texting 61016 or using the Railway Guardian app.  

“Passengers using Britain’s railways have a right to feel safe and confident to call out these behaviours without fear.”  

Joanne Maguire, ScotRail Chief Operating Officer, said: “Everyone has the right to go about their day in peace without fear of harassment or abuse. ScotRail works very closely with British Transport Police and Network Rail to ensure that Scotland’s Railway is a safe environment for our customers and our staff.    

“To assist us in tackling unacceptable behaviour, it’s important for anyone who witnesses it to report those responsible so that they can be brought to justice. This VR experience plays an important role in helping bystanders identify inappropriate behaviour when it takes place.”   

Liam Sumpter, Route Director for Network Rail, said: “Any form of sexual harassment is unacceptable on our railway and in wider society.  We want all passengers to feel confident that they can use the railway without feeling unsafe, violated, or intimidated.

“This campaign will contribute to making Scotland’s Railway safer, ensuring people understand what constitutes sexual harassment and what actions they can take to report sexual harassment.

“We are working closely with BTP, ScotRail and the wider rail industry to demonstrate how we can all play our part in keeping each other safe.”

Further events will be held in various cities in Great Britain over the coming weeks and months. 

How to report  

By reporting all incidents that occur, bystanders can help British Transport Police to identify perpetrators and reduce potential harm for others in the future.  

To report an incident, contact British Transport Police by texting 61016 or using the Railway Guardian app. In an emergency, always call 999.  

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

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